Last weekend was one of those weekends where there was way too much to do to get it all done. Joelle was busy going to a baby shower on Saturday and hosting a baby shower on Monday, which meant she would be preoccupied with those responsibilities and could use some concentrated time. So, on Saturday, I made the bold snap decision to gather up the five youngest and head to Oso to camp for the night. I knew that this was going to be an adventure camping with our younger children, ages 15 months and 4, 6, 9, and 13 years.
My grandparents used to live in Oso and I have been going to the river property for family outings since I was in the womb. I called Aunt Linda to check on availability and got the go ahead. I quickly scratched out a packing list and my son Andrew gathered everything, even two tents just to make sure we had enough poles to get one up! As Andrew was busy gathering and loading the van, I was busy planting beans, corn, fennel, and dill. Everybody got their clothes and pillows and we were off.
An hour later we were all alone on the Stillaguamish River, putting up the tent and making camp. We built a fire, had some dinner, and waited for the bats. Yes, bats! As long as I can remember I have enjoyed watching the bats fly in front of the campfire from our vantage point overlooking the river. That night I was excited to show these flying marvels to my children. Just as planned, at dusk, they started darting to and fro. And then we watched the stars appear; one by one, starting with the North Star, the sky began to reveal its majesty.
As you can imagine, we have a large tent – you know, the 10-12 man size. Usually we need every square inch, but with only six of us it seemed, well, downright palatial! So as the temperature dropped and daylight diminished we headed for the tent. It was cold and for some reason the ground seemed harder than when I was a kid?!?!
Finally, we were all tucked in. Although the baby wasn’t excited about the change in routine, because she was tired she eventually nodded off next to me. About an hour later, Maleah, the 6 year old, got up and, walking over everything and everyone, joined the baby and me in my sleeping bag. Another hour later, Stephen, the 4 year old, popped up and said in earnest, “Daddy, I got to go to the bathroom!!” In my hurry out the tent door, as one can imagine, I caught my foot and fell back onto the tent from the outside and landed on Andrew, who was sleeping. After making sure Andrew was okay I grabbed Stephen who, thankfully, was still waiting to go to the bathroom. Mission accomplished, I crawled into another, more roomy sleeping bag and for some reason the ground was hard in that spot too!?!
In the morning, we had breakfast around the campfire, had a devotional, and went for a long bike ride, played some ball, built sand castles, and went to the Oso General Store for some ice cream, just like I did when I was a kid.
It has been somewhat of a taxing farm season and I think I needed that connection with my heritage more than my kiddos did. For them it was a fun time with dad, away from the crops, cows, weeds, and work. But for me, it was about sharing the past (the river, the bats, the stars) with the future.