I am not what you would call a happy camper. (And in fact, I take issue with that phrase. When is it ever even used positively? Nowhere, that’s where. No one says, “Boy, she’s such a happy camper!”) But, despite that, last week I just couldn’t take the city anymore, and I grabbed some friends and took to the hills, errr rolling plains, ummm, okay, well there was a lake. C’mon, it’s Texas! We did the best we could.
It’s been a long and hot “fall” here in Texas. Each year around September I realize that I have been secretly expecting the weather to be like it is at home, to wake up to crisp, cool mornings, and that my 6 am cross country practice will not be sticky and grossly warm. But, it always is. Texas is in the South, and Texas is hot, at least up until mid-to-late October. And so, when the weather did finally clear and cool within the last two weeks here, my Northern, countrygirl nostalgia kicked in, full force. And I just wanted to be outside.
Last week, we had a day off of school for “Fall Reading Day”, and so I proposed a camping trip to anywhere reasonably pretty and wild and full of nature. Luckily, I have a very competent boyfriend, Joe, who did all the sensible things like look up campsites for the guys and the girls and arrange car rides, and look too good after a night of very little sleep and a lot of dirt (alright, that is not really that sensible, but hey, he pulled it off).
And so, on Thursday afternoon, the first in the caravan of cars to come set off to Cedar Hill State Park, just 30 minutes away from the UD campus.
We arrived just in time to see the sunset.
Expert camper and former Boy Scout, Hermes, built the fire with a little help from my good friend, Clare.
And of course, we then realized that our tent did not have any poles to hold it up. Although Mary and I have a one for one record of putting up tents successfully (see this post for details), I did not quite have the skills to magically pull poles out of thin air. And so it was tarps and blankets and a night under the stars for all.
Later on, my friend Anthony arrived with his bagpipes, and as he played, we all danced around the fire, leaping over it and clapping to the inexorable sound of pipes. There is something so compelling about bagpipes; one cannot help but to want to dance. Life needs to be more of firelight and music and laughter and stars.
We all woke up early the next day to a gray dawn. Anthony, who had slept on the roof of the little metal shelter at the campsite, pondered the dawn.
And as we headed back to campus, there was the lingering smell of woodsmoke and the musty-clean scent of earth. And for once, I truly was a happy camper.