When I was a little girl, Mom and Dad and I used to go camping together. At the time I was small enough to fit into the green leather wheel well of Dad’s ivory MG-TD. All of our canvas tents and camping gear were lashed to the running boards, and to this day the smell of damp canvas takes me back to those days. I don’t remember where we used to go, but as long as we went together, it was a lot of fun.
We had what I called “camp food” for supper; hot dogs roasted on forked sticks over the fire Dad made, followed by Mom’s baked beans and coleslaw. Dessert was marshmallows toasted on sticks; as many as you could eat. It was what we’d call today a “staycation,” meaning vacationing close to home. But for me it was adventure of the best kind; I was “out in the wild,” but safe and sound because I was with my parents.
When we camped during a full moon, it seemed extra exciting. In the glow of that gigantic silvery moon, all things seemed possible. Even now, decades later, the full moon seems mysterious and beautiful to me.
As a child, it was exciting to sleep in a tent and not in my bed at night! The twilight sounds of the birds and other creatures settling in for the night, as well as the haunting trill of loons on the lake; were soothing to my ears. In my imagination I thought of bears sneaking up in the dark to rummage through our supplies. It was scary but safe—my parents were with me, so what could possibly happen?
Often in the morning I was the first one up and awake. It was both mysterious and fun to emerge from our tent into the swirling morning mists. There was usually plenty of other tents in the area, and it was fun to imagine the people inside those tents.
For me, camping was a real walk on the wild side; imagine—sleeping outside where any monster or fiend could get you! But it always felt that our tent was a safe place against all scary things.
When we came back home, things always seemed sort of flat for a few days after risking life and limb sleeping out in the wild…..but now I understand truly what “happy camper” means!