This just in…no world-ending, government collapsing disaster happened this weekend. I missed none of it or nothing. Or perhaps I missed lots of little things that I don’t miss at all having missed them. The phone was turned off, hidden inside a locked car, and the keys were tucked into the tent in a spot just difficult enough to get to that only the promise of an ice cream sandwich could tempt me to retrieve them. A book, paper, pencils, and playing cards were ready for fun, for relaxation, reflection, and creativity. ‘Cause that’s what a truly productive weekend getaway should look like. Except none of that happened either and I didn’t miss being productive. All the downtime of this two-night camping trip — my first ever camping trip — was spent in peaceful nothingness.
Each morning before crawl-stepping out the tent door I slipped a knitted grey sweater over my head before heading up hill to fetch a cup of coffee from the fire started by an early riser. I’d retreat back to the lakeside, sit on a cushion of thick grass beside the dog and just be. In the afternoon I’d planned on a nap or time spent jotting down wise thoughts. Minutes later I found myself still staring out at all the different blues in the water and the sky; finding that my feeling of presence could be interrupted only by a pair of duck’s synchronized landing. At night, lying on a flat rock forming a clearing in the trees I looked up at the stars…oh all the stars…and instead of thoughts that seemed appropriate to their magnificence I thought nothing, only felt where we were. Attempts to remember and identify constellations or search out shooting stars were the fun that interrupted the nothing.
And food. I surely ate every calorie lost through hiking, swimming, and playing with the dog. Certainly our taste buds were affected by the novelty, the unexpected successes, and the setting, but every meal deserved praise. With no idea on the fire’s temperature, or setting a timer, or even what time it was (actually the friends I was with looked at their phones while I wildly guessed) every dish was perfectly cooked.
Our first night we ate trout cooked in foil packets with vegetables, lemon slices and sprigs of homegrown herbs. For dessert, tired and full, playing a game of cards to stay awake, we made apricot blackberry cobbler. Not that I did a lot to make sure it cooked. After getting it mixed and potted I turned it over to the others until declaring it done. The next days dinner was much better timed. Perfectly timed in fact so that the jalapeno cornbread (another dutch oven recipe), roasted potatoes, corn on the cob, and vegetable kabobs were all ready at the same time and while there was still light to watch our sunset.
Back home I’m still trying to keep that feeling. Every morning I resist the compulsion to look at or do something with every moment. Before getting ready for work I sit with my coffee and just stare out the window. The dog and cat set themselves beside me and NPR plays in the background as my only clue to the time. Last night, with every intention of being super productive, I sat by my apartment pool, chatting with neighbors, while our dogs ran around the edge. I didn’t chide myself once on what I was missing.