Even though we tell people that we live in a part of the country that experiences all four seasons, our springs and falls here in Kansas are more like a two-week game of peek-a-boo between winter and summer. There was a time, just a few short years ago, when summer didn’t mean a lot to me. It didn’t affect my work schedule, or much of anything else in my life.
Now, living in a household with kids, and a school district employee, summer has taken on a whole new shine, and it’s not just the sweat (which every lady knows is actually “glistening”). There’s less of a hurry, less ado. There’s more ease, more laissez-faire. For our family, summer also means something else that we don’t get to do in winter: camping.
Every other weekend, all summer long, Stacy loads the bed of the old, hunter green Chevy truck with bicycles, scooters, water toys, a collapsible garbage bin, our drinking water, and, last, the coolers (aka, our refrigerators), which are loaded down with food for the weekend. Then, in a few tries, he hooks the pop-up camper to the hitch, and we put the two kids, the two dogs, and ourselves into the cab. It’s no longer legal for children to ride in the bed, or that’s an option we might avail ourselves of during the hour-and-a-half trip out to the lake.
As you know, I didn’t grow up traveling. And I certainly didn’t grow up camping. I camped some as a young adult, because it’s What We Were Doing. But, I’d never really considered myself a camp-er.
Then I fell for this guy. And when he talked about camping, he got this far-off, dreamy look — you know, the one second-rate modeling schools teach: pensive, yet distracted… only the look was genuine — so I knew I had to give it my best shot.
Here’s the thing: I don’t like to sweat, or to Be Sweaty. Despite the fact that I live in a state which has summers that rival the Devil’s hellfire, I do not like to sweat. Not only do I not like to sweat, I am philosophically opposed to sweating. I know; it’s an on-going existential dilemma.
But now my life isn’t only about me. I’ve got a partner. And he’s got children. He grew up in a town the size of my childhood neighborhood. While he’s outgrown small-town living, he still has that nostalgic yearning for small-town life. Family. Nature. No fences. A sky dark enough to see layers upon layers upon layers of stars.
So, we camp. We camp on a lake. Stacy’s sister, her husband, and their kids camp, too. Stacy’s dad, and his wife, and their dog, camp, too.
There is boating, which also means tubing and wake-boarding. There is a wave runner. There is swimming. There is bicycling, and scootering, and rip-sticking. There are water games. There is laser tag. There is sidewalk chalk. There is fishing.
There is tree climbing. There is whooping, laughing, and hollering. There is cooking out. There are campfires, with s’mores. There are flashlight games. There is putting the kids to bed, then sitting around the fire and sharing stories. There is throwing back a drink or two. There is parting from the group to indulge in a little star gazing, and maybe a little canoodling. There is love. There is life.
AND THERE IS A LOT OF SWEATING.
So, I sweat. I dress for the occasion. I slather myself every few hours with SPF 9000.
And I boat. And I swim. And I play games. And I take endless pictures of the sidewalk chalk art. And I whoop, and laugh, and holler. And I cook out. And I eat s’mores. And I have a drink and shoot the shit around the campfire. And I love. And I live.
And I live.
What is your favorite summertime activity with family or friends?