The argument for camping.

The peepers were so loud.  So beautifully loud.

A cacophony of frogs, echoed and reverberated throughout Half Moon Pond State Park.  At 10:00 at night, my two boys were sleeping a deep sleep only boys who’d been camping could sleep.  Swimming, fishing, hiking, hours upon hours of sun and Popsicles.  They lay sprawled out on their respective beds with no blankets, sun-kissed cheeks and limp arms and legs.  It was still in the 80’s, even with all of the windows open, the mosquitoes and June bugs bouncing off the screens in a frenzy to get in.

I lay in my own bed, kicking the covers off to let my legs and feet breathe, listening to the peepers and reflecting on the day.

At the pond, a dozen or so kids, their hair wet and bodies colored pink as their skin became re-acquainted with the sun.  Their squeals and hollers echoing around all sides of the pond.  You could hear them from the boat launch, or simply walking your dog around the sites.  My own two boys off to the side, quietly playing with one another.  Alternating between laughing and fighting.  Bringing me empty snail shells, their wet feet now covered in sand as water drips from their fingertips.  “Look what we found!”.

Later, sitting on the shore of the pond, they cast line after line, making perfectly rippled circles with their bobbers happily bouncing in the center.  They caught a handful of fish, but every fish swallowed the hook, so they got a lesson in how to prevent that from happening.
“As soon as you see the bobber dip down, you’ve got to yank your line and try to hook them right away”.  From then on, they tried to watch their bobbers with the fixed stares of eagles.

The next morning, the heat inching closer to 90 degrees, we attempted a hike to High Pond Trail.  My 7-year-old collected small, miniature walking sticks for his stuffed animal waiting for him back at camp.  Not sure which size would work best for Moosey, he figured he’d bring them all back.   The pebbled shade from the trees helped only a bit, but it wasn’t long before the boys started to voice their discomfort.  Moaning that their legs hurt.  And then their arms.  “I just can’t go any further”; and “All of these sticks are so heavy”; “How much farther?”

Within an hour of returning back to camp, a ferocious thunderstorm came.  The four of us closed up all of the windows and hunkered down in the camper for the next couple of hours.  We played cards, played story-games and read by the light of a lantern.  Sam took all of his collected walking sticks and measured them next to Moosey to see which one would fit best. We snacked on junk food and jumped out of our skin every time the thunder clapped.  The sound of the rain on the roof of our camper was so comforting.  There’s something about being in the midst of a storm, yet watching it from the safety of shelter.

By now, the peepers and frogs had quieted and I found myself thinking more about the days ahead and what needed to be done.  Unpacking, laundry, grocery shopping for the week, packing lunches, clients.  I was making a to-do list in my head when I was interrupted by the “Hoo hoo-hoo hoooooo” of an owl just outside our camper.  It must have been in a tree right next to us.  The campground was so quiet, it was all I could hear.  “Hoo hoo-hoo hoooooo” he went again.  A rapid vibrato that trailed his last hoots.

Four times, five times, he hooted the same rythym and I wondered what he was saying, or who he was talking to, when finally, I heard another owl, in some far-off distant tree reply:  “Hoo hoo-hoo hooooooo”.  The exact same rythym.  So far away, I could barely hear her, but she was there.  Back and forth the two owls talked, one after the other, never interrupting always waiting for the other one to finish.

I imagined they were an old married couple.  Two old, wise owls who had maybe had the same conversation night after night from their perches, telling each other what was happening from where each sat.  No rush in their words.  No urgency in their movements.  Patient and listening.  And I wished my boys had been awake to hear them.

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