Sunday, June 12, 2011

Social networking in the woods

Jack, Andrew and Simone have met a friend.  One of the weekenders who came to stay at the campground. His name is Chris, and I might adopt him.  He's creative and bright and so kind to my children.

They've been playing together all morning.  I can see and hear them, so I haven't been checking in much.

I went over just to see if they needed anything, and saw a sketch on the picnic table, made with used charcoal.  They were all four huddled around it.  

"What are y'all doing?" I asked.

Chris: "We're making a strategy to get the rooster.  These are the plans," and he pointed to the drawing.

Jack: "And this..." (putting a tree branch in front of his face) " my disguise."

Day 14: Full immersion to the wild

I am in love with our life right now.

If I could write that in blinking neon, I might.

When I get into conversations with friends (especially those who don’t like camping), the main questions revolve around: how hot it is, how messy the outdoors is, and the bugs.

Yes, the bugs drive me nuts and it’s been really-really-hot a few days.  But we just go to the water park. :)  Or the movie theater.  

The exchange for this, though, is the constant wonder that the outdoors can bring.  Who knows when we’re going to see an electric blue lizard dart across our path.  A turtle hanging out in the grass behind our tent.  Or the joy in my boys’ eyes when they find a gigantic tree branch on the ground.  It will become a dragon or a weapon, and cherished more than any Christmas toy I have EVER bought them.

They bring me "presents" a lot, and usually it's a super-cool stick or a beautiful rock.  I love this.  I like this simplicity of needs and wants. I know it can't persist, and I don't even ask that it does.  But I like knowing that it exists in my children, those simple wants, even when we get back to normal. If it's there, we can always find it again. 

I do know eventually we’ll have to leave the woods. ;)  And I’m okay with that.  I will love-honor-and-cherish getting a dishwasher back.  I will love doing laundry without walking a half mile to the Laundromat.  And hosing down our tent will be pretty darn awesome.

But I will miss so much about this 3-week span.  My kids are immersed in their element.  They can run and explore and play.  There is SO MUCH creativity here.  Everything they do and experience requires creativity.  I have to believe that it will stay with them, even when we’re back to “normal.” 

I was expecting to see more deprivation from the kids.  They have yet to ask about their toys.  Where the TV is.  None of that seems to matter here.  

And while we ARE all snuggled into a two-room tent overnight, there’s no shortage of space.  We’ve created a little home in the woods.  Okay, a BIG home.  With many, many rooms.  Just most of them are outdoors.  

The other day, Andrew disappeared for a minute.  I called out to him, and he answered back from the woods behind our tent: “I’m in the bathroom!”  We all laughed hysterically… but y’know, it was true.  We’ve segmented our space into “rooms.”  The wooded alcove through the tree patch is the Playroom.  When they want to be loud or throw things, they can go over there.  We have the dining area in the canopy, so flies can’t get in.  Food storage and trash are away from the tent, so bugs go over there.  Our bedroom in the tent.  You can’t eat or play in there.

I’m actually feeling pretty settled in here.  There are things I won’t miss – like having to pull in everything before a rain – but there’s quite a bit that I will miss.  And somehow, I need to find ways to bring that experience even into a permanent home.