Thank you Poppy, and Carl…

Thank you Poppy, and Carl…

It was our last weekend of the camping season. Shared time between parents and the hustle of summer activities narrows the window.

Days before leaving, the forecast took a sharp turn offering freezing temps, rain, and even a chance at our first peek at snow. I knew we could pull it off, I just wanted to make sure that the kids were up for the challenge. I carefully chose my words sharing that if it was pouring rain we’d have to postpone our departure a bit or perhaps consider cancelling. Setting up Poppy during rain would leave us with soggy beds and frozen prune bodies. After I was finished delicately delivering this news, Little Lady threw a fist in the air exclaiming, “That won’t stop us, Mama. We’re not giving up. Nothing will get in our way!” Yes, Sister. Yes.

They amaze me.

We finished set-up within minutes of the rain rolling in. The highs were in the low 40s, the lows near freezing. We hit the sack in layers topped off with stocking hats, tucking our faces in for warmth and pressing against each other for both security and comfort. Little House on the Prairie was read aloud over raindrops loudly pinging off the canvas shelter. Lantern-lit shadow puppets served as our entertainment. I mustered the courage to light the furnace. I hadn’t yet attempted this feature in our little old camper. Propane makes me nervous. It worked. Win.

Halfway through the first night of chilly, pouring rain, that propane ran out. I’d been unsure of how much remained from the previous owner. I found ice-cold air blowing in from outdoors. We snuggled tighter and drank extra hot chocolate in the morning. Not a complaint in sight, but plenty of wiggly thrill – a sense of survival stirred in their little bodies.

I notice the changes and growth in these babes in the way they move down the trails, the heights they’re willing to brave on the rocks, the distances we reach while hiking, and the observations they draw from quiet reflection.

In this new age of their sprouting independence I find myself pulling back more often to watch the scene unfolding in front of me from a distance. Soaking in their voices, the words they use and how they pronounce them, their processes; a window into their brains, the curves of their faces, and the rhythm of their relationship.

They are brave and willing to venture places on their own more often, reserving hand holding for willing connection and affection versus dependence; their fuel for bravery at a younger age. My little guy asked if they could walk the campground loop on their own one evening – a departure from his comfort level of days passed. I said yes and watched him let this answer sink in for a minute as he spied the campers around us, and the layout of the land.

They set off down the little road, Sister skipping along his side with the pom-pom on her hand-knitted stocking hat bouncing with each step. I followed the light of their lantern bobbing along the trail through the darkness. I love their balance. I hope they always puzzle their personalities when navigating life outside of me. I know they’ll go far.

Geese migrating overhead, the crunch of leaves underfoot, the smell of smoldering campfires, laughter from surrounding camps – all things that make it right for me.

I had a problem that needed fixing and I wasn’t equipped to do it on my own. Life is like that. I called the main office and they sent an angel named Carl. Carl brought tools to detach (pry) the propane tank secured to my camper frame with rusty old bolts. We were unsure of the nature of attachment on the tank so I hit the trail in search of a fellow camper that could teach me a thing or two. I found a lovely gentleman at Camp Stupendous, clearly marked by a hand sewn banner with fabric bubble letters wrapped around the tree near their site. This was truly a “sign” that spoke right to me. I was in luck. He knew exactly what to do.

The babes and I hit a nearby town in search of a fill station; crossing my fingers that this alone would solve my heating problem. When I returned, like a knight in shining armor, Carl came back to assist me and my injured shoulder to lift and install the full, heavy tank into the tight space. And he brought brand new hardware. Shiny nuts and bolts felt like diamonds on a platter.

Needing help used to feel like a weakness, a bother to others for this recovering non-imposing type. Now it feels more like connection. It’s beautiful really.

Sister and my two nieces joined us the last evening, delivering the icing on the adventure cake. Watching these four cousins together grants me completeness. They experienced this place all over again through their cousins’ eyes. They ran, they jumped, and they climbed crazy heights in complete wonder. We snacked in the nooks on the side of cliffs, and chiseled quartz free from the rock. They pushed themselves to the edge of their limits and then shuffled a few more feet forward. They did it together. I hope they always do.


I cry nearly every time we hit the road on an adventure, eyes on the camper in the rear view mirror framed by two little faces, the sound of excited laughter building from the back seat. I’m grateful, overwhelmed at times, to be squeezing life out of our days together. The possibility, reality more so, of that time coming to an end or changing shape feels closer and closer, like a looming deadline. I must keep a stronghold over the weight of things uncertain and unwritten. It’s much easier to do out here…

I feel great reflection in the fall transition. Another season older, another season richer.

Thank you Poppy for helping me to teach these kids how to live.

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