Wanda Jackson. I love Wanda Jackson. "Funnel of Love" has been stuck in my head for a few days, along with Patsy Cline's "Walkin' After Midnight". Obviously, I'm in the mood for some warm weather. Wait--in the mood? No. I'm in desperate need of hot muggy nights on the front porch, listening to crickets and enjoying the blooms of moonflowers.
Summer's not here yet. In fact, spring has been slow to arrive. It was still rather cool this past weekend when I joined the Scouts for their annual campout. Technically, it was my year to do it, after the boys' father and step-father each took a turn in the past two years. I wasn't getting out of it--the boys insisted I be there. But I wanted to be there.
I enjoy camping, and this past weekend was camping "lite". We were hardly roughing it. We had cabins with bunks, fireplaces, and electricity. We had an afternoon snack of delicious homemade chicken noodle soup, spooned into cups from huge steel vats. Our dinner was a catered ziti/meatball/BBQ chicken affair in the mess hall, cooked up by the Scout master and his legion of den leaders/volunteer firefighters who run our Pack. (Those guys love to cook--and eat.) And a towering bonfire of pallets warmed us before our dessert of ice cream sundaes--which was only a prelude to the s'mores we enjoyed back at our cabins before bed.
I was one of only a few moms who stayed the night--and one of only two who was there without a "significant other". I was there solo. Many moms showed up for dinner, like I did last year--and like Ian did this year, or they spent the day cheering on the kids during the various competitions--three-legged race, shot put, relay--before heading home. A couple of moms tried to stay the night, but left in the wee hours after their kids hurled their marshmallows and ziti. So it goes for some of the younger kids after a big day of food and fun.
The highlight of the day's events might have been the tug of war. The rope was a few inches thick, and there were so many scouts at the event that there were two different battles for which team was strongest. Sean and Nolan were together on a team, and they came out on top in each game. Everyone was shouting orders from the sidelines. "PULL!" "LEAN BACK!" The younger skinny minnies, like Nolan, pulled from the center of the rope, while the stronger kids, like Sean, threw their weight into it from the ends.
One of the Bear dads, an NHPD homicide detective, clearly drew from his rope-pulling experience in the police academy as he organized Sean and Nolan's team and screamed them on to victory. I don't know who was happier with the win--him or the kids. Funny how a simple game of tug of war can tap into the primal happiness in everyone.
It was a long day of fun, and when it came time to turn in for the night, the temps had dipped to at least 40, if not lower. One of the Tiger dads in our cabin had served several years in the Army, so he taught the boys how to start a fire with nothing but a little flint, some cotton balls and Chapstick. Sparks and petroleum, basically. Not a match in sight. Our fire was good, and our resident Army dad kept it good for the rest of us while we slept. It finally died out around 3 or 4 AM, and a quiet, dark cold settled into the cabin--and our bones.
Nolan slept soundly next to me on the bunk, while I struggled to keep my face warm against the fleece of his sweatshirt. I put his hood back over his head to keep him warm and adjusted my winter cap before snuggling down for another three hours' sleep. I awoke to Nolan saying, in the sweetest possible voice, "Mommy, isn't nice to wake up and hear the birds right next to us?" We dressed and met up with a groggy Sean for breakfast. He and the other older kids had spent the night in a cabin with the Bear parents eating candy, playing cards, and goofing off until well after midnight.
We headed home after filling up on eggs, french toast, bacon and sausage. As I packed up the car, one of the dads said to me, "Hey, I just want to give you credit for sleeping out with everyone last night. Most moms don't do that. I know my mom never would have done that. So... thanks. I know your boys appreciate it." Those words were an unexpected warm blanket after a cold night in the bunk. I was there solely because I wanted to be. And I'm glad that I'm that kind of mom.
After a night of sketchy sleep, I was a little out of it for the rest of the day. A hot and soapy shower, a big cup of tea, and a long walk with the dog helped me recalibrate. Nolan slept for two hours on the couch, while Sean denied his exhaustion until it got the better of him as soon as his head hit the pillow. More than 11 hours later, he was still asleep 30 minutes before the first bell at school. I didn't have the heart to wake him a moment sooner than absolutely necessary.
Just two days before the campout, I had been feeling very overwhelmed by our family's schedule, now that little league season has started. The boys are on separate teams this year, which means separate practices and separate games several nights a week. In short, I'm going to live at the field between now and the end of June. And between now and mid-May, we still have about four weeks left of scouts and CCD, as well as the boys' tae kwon do tournament and Sean's First Communion. To top it off, work has been extra-challenging the past several weeks. My stress levels have been high, despite all that yoga and walking I love to do. (Imagine if I didn't do it!)
But as I rolled my ergonomically correct Herman Miller chair up to my desk for another day in the trenches of Corporate America on Monday morning, I was no longer overwhelmed. I was simply content. It's amazing what 24 hours in the woods can do for the soul. Once again, I am so grateful to my boys for pulling me out of my head and right into the present. I am so lucky to be their mom.