+[impromptu camping]+

My best friend recently told me that I paint word pictures along with creating art.  She was able to recite from memory a description I gave of a very typical day based on a post I had written about it.  I dont think of my writing that way - ever.  But its challenged me since she shared that thought.  Its challenged me to think about what I am writing and how - what will my ultimate life painting be, by word and action.

Since weve returned from Texas there have been outdoor concerts, outdoor movie nights, friends over for dinner and bible studies, friends to stay the night, walks on trails, new recipes, weed pulling, school planning and more and variations of the same.   I simply havent wanted to take the time to write about it all; I find more pleasure currently in just being in the moment.  And then there are times when my writers voice demands to be heard.  Like this morning.  So, as I sit streetside at my favorite downtown french cafe Im going to indulge said voice and keep in mind my best friends words.

While sipping a Kenyan coffee on our Saturday morning date, Doug decided he want go camping overnight - a privilege he pined for in the years we werent living here.  Savannah was at a conditioning practice for her soccer team and we had an hour before picking her up.  30 minutes to pack the car and, by his estimations, we should be able to be on the road by noon.   And so we were.  Its a near three hour drive to the retreat he had his mind set on, and ten minutes in.  Though a town is near, it hidden far enough in the Colorado backcountry, in the folds of woody hills and winding streams, down twists and turns of narrow mountain road, that it could be mistaken from being hours from civilization of any kind.   The grounds are large and each campsite provides picturesque views of the Rockies - front row seats to a meadow stretching down to a whitewater stream, and beyond that a dense stand of forest.  It looks like a place where a writer or artist, or a gnome, might hide and ply their craft, undisturbed by anything but elk, birds and dragonflies.  Its a place where I have to discipline myself not to daydream.

When we arrived the place was packed (it is July!).  Everything "full" the signs said, but Doug pressed on. We drove on in, found an empty site, checked back with the ranger and was given the green flag to set up camp.  Things work that way with my husband.   While the rest of my family set up the tent, I unpacked food and began the housekeeping of our site.  The day handed its torch to night and the air held a chill.  Savannah built and stoked a hot wood fire, and put on a pot of coffee.  Within moments I had to shed the black fleece pullover I had only moments before retrieved from the tent.  We ate and talked without interruption from dusk until bedtime, roasting dinner over the fire and passing skewered strawberries stuffed with chocolate chips over the flames until they oozed their molten sweetness.

Girls up to their ears in sleeping bags with flashlights gossiping of their late night reading, Doug and I took a walk under the stars.  My arm tucked in the bend of his, we pointed and named and wondered.  Darkness surrounded us, mountain winds chilled us and it felt as though we were newlyweds once more.

Our second day at Rocky Mountain National Park, I awoke to the dog wanting breakfast.   With contacts stuck to my eyes I blindly made my way to his food and walked him around a bit to do his business.  Knowing thats all he needs before going right back to sleep, I let him slip back in the tent and I headed off alone.  Moraine, where we camp, has hundreds of walking trails, strewn thick with pine needles, that loop around its perimeter, and others that criss cross between the loops.  I walked briskly and chose a route that zigzagged up the ridge and over to the meadow I love so much.  The forest was cool and every tent I passed was silent with the final hours of sleep for its adventurers.

As I walked, I prayed.  But it was more a conversation, a heartfelt talk with a good friend, which I suppose is what prayer is.  I told Jesus what I was afraid of, what I hoped for, and what I regretted, what I cherished.  I told him about my writing and art, where it felt thin, or bloated, or forced, and I asked Him for guidance.  I told Him how thankful I was for my husband and how I feel so much like Eve, act so much like her, trying to make my own way in the midst of a gardenlife of beauty.  I told Him how astonished I am at what He has done with my children and our life together so far, given the raw materials weve handed Him.  I sat on a flat topped stone in the rising sunshine and looked out on the wide expanse of blue-grey morning while a stellars jay circled above me.  I thanked God, and sought Him, and laid my heart before Him.

The day moved on.  Savannah and I ran away together hours later, retracing the steps of my morning alone and wound our way down to the river where she waded and I watched and we talked.  Doug and Peyton napped their breakfast fullness away under the shade of our tent.  When we came back the place was steamy.  We opened all the tent windows and got a cool breeze blowing through as we began to break camp.  Peyton picked wild daisies instead of folding the rain fly and Dougs voice called her back from her fairy dreams.  At midday we drove away, less than 24 hours after we had arrived.  Is funny what a few stolen hours in nature can do for the soul.