Thursday, October 28, 2010

It did not rain last weekend.
    That may not seem momentous to report, but for those of us who went camping, it was nothing short of miraculous.
    We’ve been camping on the weekend before Halloween for almost 20 years, and for most of those years, we’ve endured at least one day or night of rain, sometimes more. If adversity builds character, our camping character is extremely built.
    Even in the rain, we manage to keep the communal camp fire going, thanks to heartier souls than I who wake up early to stoke the coals and throw on more wood throughout the days and nights.
    It’s a wonderful tradition we’ve shared with a bunch of old friends – and some relatives. Our kids grew up looking forward to this “pre-Halloween weekend,” which includes a costume contest, trick-or-treating through the campsites, and a haunted hayride. This year about 30 of us converged on our usual spot atop the hill at Warwick Woods, not too far from French Creek.   
    Rain or shine, we camp on. (And thanks to my husband’s seam sealing, we’ve always stayed dry in our tents.)
    After one particularly rainy weekend, I came home and – after a long, hot shower – began writing this:

Camping lessons:
    You're never too old to play outside.
    Sometimes it rains; and sometimes it seems the rain will never end.
    Sometimes you want to pack it in and go home.
    Sometimes a hot dog is the perfect food.
    Sometimes you’ll forget to bring important things.
    If you need help, ask.

    Remember to look up at the stars.
    If you surround yourself with good people, you’ll make it through.

This year we got to experience the joy of camping without any of the rainy, dreary parts. It was glorious. There is nothing quite like sitting around a campfire, drink of choice in hand, watching the flames and glowing coals, talking and laughing with people you’ve known for years.
    I was so aware of the sun, the breeze, the light through the trees, the rise of the full moon – the complete lack of rain and mud. It was heavenly, in the truest sense of that word.
    After so many years of rain, we had so earned a clear, bright, sunny weekend.
    I wonder, would we have appreciated that clear, bright beauty as much had we not camped through so much rain and drear before? Is it partly that contrast that makes us understand the blessing of a beautiful day?
    It’s been said, “In all things, give thanks.”
    In which case, I give thanks for the rains past.
    But I give even more thanks for the sun.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

How do I love leaves? Let me count the ways.
    The way they turn from green to red and orange and yellow and purple and gold. (Goodbye, photosynthesis.)
    The way they carpet lawns and fields with those colors.
    The way they make the wind visible, those small leaf tornados spinning close to the ground.
    The way they hurry across a street when the wind gusts, like little kids racing across a playground.
    The way they spin and float gently to the ground.*
    The way they stand out bold against blacktop, especially after rain leaves the surface shining.
    The way they crunch so satisfyingly underfoot, until the sidewalk resembles the dregs of a cereal box.
    The way they always return in the spring.
*We go camping with a bunch of families every October. One friend used to offer the kids $5 if they could catch a falling leaf with their mouth. Easier said than done.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

A dog running full out is a joy to behold.
    I saw that Sunday as I was walking through the neighborhood with Louie, our resident canine. As we approached one corner house, I caught a flash of white fur on the porch, and knew just what was coming next.
    The Shetland sheepdog who lives there – let’s call her Lassie in miniature – came tearing down the steps. She fairly flew toward us, her gorgeously groomed coat flowing back in the breeze. On her face: a doggish smile.
    Louie and this Lassie meet like this regularly, and their routine rarely varies:
    She bounds down to the fence. Tail wagging commences. They touch noses excitedly for a moment or two. She prances back and forth, waiting to see which way we’re headed. Then Louie, like any good gentleman caller, pees on her fence.
    Smooth, Lou. Real smooth.
Dapper Lou