Camping

“Damn it.” I muttered as I hit the ground. My hands broke my fall, but the smell of dirt still hit my nose. I turned back to the see the guide line still quivering, as if it was laughing at me. The decaying leaves strewn around the campsite gave the ground a yellowish colour, even on the brown dirt. The June sun hung high in the air, warming up the day. You were starting the fire, so we would have hot coals to cook on for supper. You looked up as I hit the ground and a smile formed on your lips. “Don’t you say a thing,” I said to you, shaking my finger. You closed your mouth, but your eyes crinkled from held in laughter. I laughed at you and we both exploded into a laughing fit at my miserable clumsiness.

I picked myself up off the ground and wiped my hands on my jeans. I looked again at the tent I just tripped over. The green nylon cover arched perfectly over the top. We had set up the tent a short while ago. While you went and got the wood and the fire going, I crawled into the tent to open the zippers and let the fresh air in. I unrolled our sleeping bags and laid them across the foam padding that would separate us from the ground. I zipped up the door to stop the mosquitos from getting into our tent. As I walked away from the quivering guideline, I came to see your progress on the fire. You had a small flame started in the kindling, but were still trying to get the wood to light. You blew gently on the flame, encouraging it to heat up and light the wood. Patiently you sat, watching, the little flames dancing in your eyes. The fire seemed to catch, and you beamed with pride over the little life you created. You added another small log to the burning kindling, and soon we had a wonderful little crackling fire lighting up our campsite. You smiled at me, and said “See, I can make fire.” I laughed at the grin on your face, the pride in your voice. I set up the two folding chairs, and we sat, side by side, just listening to the sound of nature. The birds chirping, the faint buzzing of bugs singing their tunes, the wind rustling the leaves. We just breathed the fresh air, the smell of dirt, grass, leaves, and smoke enveloping us. You walked away for a bit, searching for a stick to be your fire poker. You picked up a couple you didn’t like and tossed them into the bush, the bugs flying out from your disturbance. After a few minutes, you strutted back with a long branch, and starting pushing the coals and logs around. This place had a striking beauty. You had suggested it, after all.

The sun hung high in the sky, but the campsite we were on was secluded, surrounded by green pine trees, tall oak trees, and magnificent elms. We had pulled some bark from the birch trees, and some dried leaves from the base of the sycamore trees- I loved that they smelled like earl grey tea when they burned. On the far side of the campsite, a small rocky trail wound around towards the beach. The sandy shore led into a beautiful, shallow lake that was surprisingly warm for this early in the season. We had briefly had a look before setting up the campground. Once we got the fire going, we settled into camp. Ensuring our cooler of food was tucked safely away, I had prepared the first evening meal- a simple dish that could be prepared by tossing it onto the hot coals to cook. Once the fire had burned through a couple of logs, we banked the fire, spread out the coals, and placed our meals in the lingering heat. We decided to go for a swim; we took our shoes off and grabbed a couple towels and walked towards the shallow beach. You surprised me as you stripped off your shirt and ran right in! Laughing and calling to me to hurry up and get in the water! I tentatively stepped into the water, feeling the sand on my feet, the water rushing over them. The water was cool and warm, as the shallowness had allowed the temperature to rise. I walked further in, and you swung your arms up and splashed me! I yelped in surprise, but stood my ground. No way was I going to let you get away with that. I ran towards you, and in my clumsiness, hit a rock on the bottom and tumbled forward into the water. SPLASH! You didn’t even try to hold it in, your full belly laugh echoed over the entire lake. The birds took off from the trees. You walked over to me and helped me up. “How are you ever going to survive this trip with your clumsiness?!” you asked me, still laughing.

I swung my hand against the top of the lake and splashed you with the warm water. You shouted at me and splashed back. We played the game for a while, before calling a draw and walking back towards the shore. The sun had sunken just below the trees. We toweled off and headed back to our little secluded campsite. The coals still glowed, and we tossed a log onto the fire and pulled out the meals. We ate and drank and talked merrily about everything and nothing. We stoked the fire and kept it fed, occasionally stopping to cut some more wood. This was our whole world right now, just this little secluded spot with me and you. As the sun set, you suggested one more quick swim. I laughed, and sent you on your own. You insisted I come with, so I could see the glow of the stars start to spot the sky from the east, as the sun finished setting in the west. I followed you down to that little beach and waded into the water. You dove straight in again. I laughed at your candor; your craziness. You splashed around for a little bit, before coming back to the shore.

We walked back to that fire, that place of warmth. I saw a blur of motion running away from our site! Something had finished off our supper! You cried out, and I laughed, poking your ribs and making fun of your anguish. You smiled back at me, and laughed too, realizing the futile nature of your anger. We pulled our chairs closer together around the fire, watching the flames do their magical dance, and entrance us. We looked up and watched the sky- the stars had vanished, under cover of cloud, and the sound of thunder rumbling in the distance. The wind picked up and we could see that the trees had flipped their leaves. There was going to be a storm tonight. We both smiled at each other. Rain was another beautiful part of this earth. We huddled together by the fire, pushing the logs apart and letting the fire wane, covering the coals with some sand. We picked up everything and stowed it under a tarp, so it would stay dry. The clouds moved ever closer; the wind picking up, the temperature cooling down. You grabbed the flashlight and led the way to our tent, just as the heavens opened up. We crawled into our little shelter and listened to the sound of the rain drops on the tent. Thunder roared, and we quickly zipped up the windows, sitting together in the middle of the tent. You wrapped your arms around me, but said nothing. We sat together, listening to the wind whip around us.

The lightning flashed, and I could see you looking back at me. Thunder boomed around us, but we were safe in our shelter, you and I, cuddled together in our tent. You unzipped the sleeping bags, and laid down on the ground. You beckoned me to come over to you. I slipped into your arms, and lay my head on your chest, nestled under your chin. I could hear your heartbeat, beating fast, over the storm. You held me tight, arms resting on my back, You were quiet, breathing steadily, and I realized, you had fallen asleep. I sighed contently as I too drifted off to sleep to the sound of the rain falling on our tent, wrapped in your embrace. The thunderstorm passed, and the rain stopped in the night. I woke to the first light, you still slumbering away, one arm under your neck, the other still on my back. I shifted to look up at you, and you tensed, and immediately wrapped me up in big hug, and pulled me over you. I looked down at your still closed eyes, reached my hand to your hair, and ran my hands through it, smiling as you did. I leaned down to your ear, and whispered, “Good Morning, Sunshine”.

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