The rhythmical, patterned bird songs of Robins and Chickadees greeted the morning with energy, perhaps calling to their mate across the way. Dew drops quivered across tree limbs, down the veins of leaves, and fell to the ground below, their pattering sound resembling a soft rain. Quiet words of campsite neighbors discussing the benefits of unprocessed foods, kayaking, and the cold night before filtered through our nylon tent walls. These were the sounds that filled my ears before I even glimpsed the light of day. This was what the mornings of our camping adventure looked like.
Cracking my eyes open ever so slightly, speckles of glittering light flooded my vision. I love how the morning air looked and felt — embracing me with a gentle touch, sympathetic to the state of my existence that was still piecing together my surroundings, half in dream state. As soon as my eyelids opened our two dogs sprung into alert mode, raising their heads and ears. They knew I was awake. Walt, the Aussi, made his way to my side and collapsed in a heap, resting his snout on my shoulder — cold nose pressed on my face and heaving a heavy impatient sigh. He knew it would still be awhile before we were up and moving. Charlie, our handsome Beagle mix, snuggled between the bend of my legs. He stayed close, his short fur not keeping him nearly as warm as Walt's wolf-like coat. I tucked the covers in around his slightly trembling body. Turning my body in worm like fashion (still tucked in my Dad's cold-temperature sleeping bag I borrowed) I wiggled my way to Dustin. His knit beanie was pulled down over his ears, his body sandwiched between a pile of blankets. I caught his glance in the small opening of covers and our eyes traveled upward to the view before us — a beautiful overhanging of trees.
Upon exiting the tent, Dustin was quickly at work on a fire, as our breakfasts of pancakes and sausage (veggie for me!) depended on it. Coffee was brewed promptly, and I snuck in a little drawing time with my hot mug only an arms length away. There is something cleansing about not instantly checking Facebook and Instagram in the mornings that I've tried to remember as the habit of it creeps back into my daily routine back at home. My mind remained clear, untainted, and focused.
Our afternoons were spent exploring. I can still hear the crunching of wooded debris beneath my black, chunky, laced up boots as we meandered into the forest one afternoon — the tread barely keeping me afoot on the thick turf of wet leaves as Walt pulled at his leash (and thus me) down the trail hill in excitement. He loves to lead but never knows where he is going. The path led to rock, cliff edges — ending where Grayson Lake began below. The glistening water mesmerizing before my eyes, drawing me into a trance. We spent a few moments here, and then all four of us gathered on a large rock overlooking the lake. It was here we rediscovered peace — all four of us quiet, still, together as one — all contained on a tiny surface area of this large world. A minuscule speck, yet my whole heart.
As the sun set we spent the evenings back at our campsite. Dustin gathered wood, carefully processing branches of smaller twigs and sorting them into stacks by size — preparing for the night ahead and the blazing fire that we would ask to keep us warm for hours. I spent my time gathering just the right items for an easy centerpiece, cutting the vegetables for dinner, and setting the table. We silently worked — putting our gifts together for a simple evening of tasty food followed by good conversation, and of course s'mores. What better way to spend an evening.
As I settle back into reality and head back to work this week, I hold close to the lessons I've learned. I'm remembering it's not about not having enough, but making what you have enough. It's about slowing down enough to feel the peace inside. It's about actually loving the ones you claim to love, and spending time with them. It really is finding the joy in the little things. Every time I spend a long weekend in nature, I come back feeling renewed. I'm hanging onto the lessons I learned but I can't help feeling excited for the next camping adventure.