If you’ve never spent a summer weekend in a tent, living off either uncooked food or things thrown on a grate over an open fire, you really ought to try it. Immerse yourself in the beauty of nature, where’er your travels take you, and kick back.
Friday evening I arrived home from a special Mass for the solemnity of the Sacred Heart (which was beautiful and had some unexpected bits that I should probably blog about)to discover that… the electricity was out. Because my apartment is mostly basement level and it was around 8:30PM, it was relatively dark inside. The power was out for a couple miles in every direction; houses, gas stations, even the street lights, were dark. I was planning to leave around 8AM Saturday for the 100ish mile drive to Keuka Lake but… I was effectively camping in my own house. So, with trusty flashlight in hand, I threw some clothes and necessary items- effectively, bathing suit, flipflops, toothbrush, and meds- into a gymbag, grabbed my pillow and old blanket, and threw it all in my Honda and took off.
Driving into the sunset, headed west, I noshed on tortilla chips and hummus and contemplated how easily I had changed my plans. Spontaneity isn’t my strong suit! But sometimes we need a sharp knock to the head, or a loss of electricity, or something equally unexpected, to knock us out of our routines and the comfortable.
I arrived sometime around 10:30 Friday night, in the pitch black darkness that is Farm Country New York (alternatively known as Penn Yan) and settled around the campfire with sister, brother in law, and dog, and stared at the stars – so many of them. We didn’t do much of anything other than talk and enjoy the solitude. Eventually, we abandoned the hot coals for a warm(ish) tent and waited for Saturday.
The beauty of camping is… really, you have no idea of time. It passes, surely, but when you don’t have a watch, and there’s no microwave or kitchen clock to glance at, and your phone is turned off and somewhere in the front seat of your car, you just let time dictate. We woke up sometime in the early morning hours, scrounged up some breakfast, and…relaxed. Sat around. Tried some cold brew coffee (difficult, but it works. you make do.) and talked about what we might do with the day. Zero demands… no email to check, no phone calls to make, no errands to run… there’s something incredibly freeing about effectively being lost in the woods.
Shocking, I’m sure, the choice I made for “morning activity”.
Unsurprisingly, I got a rockin’ sunburn while reading. Namely, farmer’s burn and the tops of my feet. Lovely. Really, the rest of the day was… uneventful. We threw a frisbee, hopped in the lake for a swim, hiked up a hill, made awesome sandwiches (pastrami and bacon, yo), walked around, picked a daisy for my hair, took naps on the grass, played Mancala, and went to get ice cream at the local place (owned/operated by friends of my sister). Check out all the flavors!
I rolled out Sunday morning so that I would have time to get a shower before noon Mass at St. D’s. It was a much nicer/easier/more entertaining drive with the sun shining.
So there ya go. No crazy stories, nothing overwhelmingly entertaining, other than: I left town for a weekend, I turned my phone off from Friday night ’til Sunday morning, I didn’t use any electricity for the entire time, I slept with only a piece of plastic between myself and the grass, and I woke each morning when the sunshine was too bright to close my eyes against. And I feel amazing this week because I’m…refreshed. A little less cynical, a little more sunburnt (and a lot more bug-bitten), and very grateful for the little things in life – like being able to do work at 9PM even when it’s dark as heck out. Grateful that I can see stars at night even though I live in a more citified area. Grateful that God is good and I’m still able to revel in the beauty of his Creation. And you know what? I’m a better person this week because of that – more peaceful and a little less wenchy and a lot more smiley.