I would call these things old friends. Simple observations that arrive in bursts and bubbles that float briefly above my head in camp like those from comic books. With exclamation marks.
They are not earth shattering. Some may not even scratch the surface of your experiences. That’s o.k. They are, in part reasons, why I go camping. They are together, with many other daily experiences under the tall pines and on top of solid granite, profound in their simplicity. I dare say if I had experienced them even on an irregular basis as a child they would have been enough to change my life.
Because I could imagine them and tasted them at different times, even if not together — all on one epic trip - they waited for me and greeted me as an adult with kids of my own. Returning to the woods each year, they continue to welcome me like living memories.
Coffee tastes better in a French Press at camp than at the priciest, most stylish coffee shop - even the ones with the leather couches that threaten to swallow you with comfort. Balancing on an old log and savoring each sip, my morning is complete before the sun has even crested the treeline.
At home my dog is inseparable from me. At camp he explores and lies down by himself. He’ll ask to be let into the tent for a nap. He does however want to be included in canoe rides, fishing expeditions and hammock naps.
The crappie I pulled up from the deep bottom with the moon rising sharply overhead. It felt like a walleye and I treated it as such, fighting it in, surprised at the end that its fragile paper mouth held the larger hook. Black and white, it was reflected as a copy of itself off the water that had turned flat as glass.
Dragonflies flew all around me as I fished in the dark.
The flickering flames of the fire through the tree branches calling me back to my family on shore and the fragrant smell of smoke drifting across the lake.
The imagined and real movement of a hammock underneath you as you sleep suspended between two huge trees.
Minnows schooling in the morning water. Sand underneath lit with the day’s first light. In the afternoon tiny rollers left bright light patterns across the surface of the lake. More minnows in the growing warmth.
Lily pad stems grabbing you while you swim. Did you know that if you burn your finger while cooking or get a sunburn, the underneath of a lily pad when rubbed on your burn mimics the cooling and healing properties of aloe?
The cold rush of the first swim of the day is one of the most refreshing things on Earth.
Everything. Everything tastes better. Even mistakes.
The black from the cooking pots that gets on your fingers.
The feeling of togetherness and on-the-same-pageness that is present from the time we land at camp. This is accompanied by a pervading sense of calm and relaxation.
How much better a good book is when read in a tent or with your back against a tree in the sun.
The tantalizing smell of bacon over a flames that pulls everyone to the campfire like a magnet.
Flaky white fish fried to perfection and breaded golden brown with eggs over easy and camp potatoes.
A walk in the dark under the light of the stars without your headlamps.
The ripples that forever change the complexion of the lake right before your bobber disappears under the surface. Those two to three seconds you wait before setting the hook.
Riding back towards Ely and home, silent in the car, before you are pulled back into the unreality of busy everyday life.