Summer Camp(ing)

When I was 10 or 11, I'd get my friend over to the house and we'd pitch a tent out on the edge of the yard and camp there. The woods stood as a wall, the dark scraggly trees and tall, thin poplars staking out their space. It sloped off sharply down, down to the ravine, a slow, swampy bed where the little creek filled with skunk cabbage, logs and tangled growth blocked us from hopping around like we would on rocky creeks. But we stayed away from that with our tent. It was scary down there, the smell of rotting leaves and cabbage, the too-quiet space between us and the town on the other side. A lone dog barking, lonely. The summer air, moist on my skin, but tolerably cool at night. We zipped the tent closed. The old canvas smell and my slightly musty sleeping bag filled my nose, and silence punctuated my ears. The lumpy sandy soil under the plastic tarp still poked through the sleeping bag. We tried to lay there and sleep. No, we laid there and said "Did you hear that? What was it? Is someone out there?" It was scarier not seeing what was around us than being out in the open. This lasted about an hour until 11 when we gave up and went into our nice, safe, clean back porch enclosed by screen walls. We decided to sleep there instead. No wondering about who was peering at us or planning to pull the pegs on the tent.

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