Our camping trip.
What I liked about it:
::That it wasn't last minute. It was the opposite of spontaneous. Our schedules are patchwork, there are three outside-the house-jobs, four inside-the-house jobs, two shared-custody schedules, and several birthday parties not to be missed, including Xi's. So out of necessity we blocked out these couple days in the woods far in advance. I liked this because the nerd in me, the orderly person in me, had plenty of time to organize myself, the kids, the gear, and especially the food. I go into a mild panic when I picture our three girls in the woods with hungry stomachs. They eat a lot and if I don't have my wits about me the food supply can go in an afternoon. I liked it that I had all the time I needed to gather their tummy-filling favorites.
::That Montana is little-populated enough that on a Sunday evening, nestled in a camp site, right on the edge of a gorgeous lake, we saw no other human beings. Car camping! No other human beings! In California, where I am originally from, there would never be an available site - without fees or reservations - next to a lake. And when you did find yourself a spot, you would definitely be surrounded by other people and at least a couple of those people would join your campfire come evening and tell you some indecipherable drunken tales while mosquitoes suck the blood from their animated brows.
::That our older girls are old enough and interested enough to do the bulk of our firewood sawing.
::That the campfire is always the epicenter of life in camp. It's like an animal to tend to, feed and keep happy. The girls and I got it going in the morning and Papa tended it late into the night. He also did lovely camp maintenance while we slept - hanging wet shoes to dry, spreading wood chips on the muddy path, washing the dishes. It was like waking up to find a camp fairy had beautified our site.
::That the rain came at just the right time. Once in the evening after our bellies had been filled and camp tidied and just in time for us to run to the tent and snuggle in our puffy bags. Then again after we emerged to roast marshmallows and brush teeth, right in time for bed. Three girls drifted off to the sounds of raindrops and Harry Potter from Papa. And then one more time before dawn. The last drops trickled down as we woke but when we stepped out the sun had broken through and free, warming our site and our souls.
:: That we saw a frog, and ducks, and birds, and more butterflies than any of us could count.
:: That Henry got to come. Dogs are so easily satisfied. Gleefully accompanying me to the outhouse, snuggling up for the night in a tent. In fact just getting to hop into the gear-loaded van was enough bliss to last this yellow guy a lifetime.
::That I had three days in which to just trip out on this wonderful family. Our group, chosen by fate and full of mixing and matching personalities. A happy little bundle of people that really like each other.
::That we carefully cleaned the house before our departure.
::That the house smelled good when we walked in.
::That there were leftovers in the fridge.
::That the garden is wild and intricate and happy to have the chief waterer home.
::That I have Nathan to do this with. All of this life.