November 15, 2016
Dear Grace, Emily, Wilson, Campbell and Phineas,
Now that it’s been a few months since we all went camping together in Colorado, I have almost forgotten about the rain and the mosquitos.
I almost don’t remember the days of washing and drying a gajillion wet tents and sleeping bags that had mildewed after a week of rainy camping.
Today I am well rested because I slept in a real bed last night, so the mornings of waking up all stiff from sleeping on the ground are far, far away.
And now I can look back at pictures of our week together in the mountains and remember why our family loves to go camping with you.
In a world where we spend more and more of each day inside and on screens, camping forces us into a total reboot.
You have to be outside. There is no other option. Even if you hide in the car for a while, you can not stay there forever. Eventually, you have to get out. And when you are outside, for days and days strung together, you begin to do things naturally that in your regular life are not normal.
You run and shout and play with rocks and sticks and pinecones.
You are not just connecting to the earth. You are merging with it. You have it under your fingernails and between your toes and even in your food.
You are dirty with the earth and you do not mind too much.
You recognize and live within the rhythms of nature when you are outside all day. You notice when the sun comes up and when it sets, you come closer to rising and sleeping by it.
You play with fire. You find the wood, you build the fire, you tend the fire, you eat things you stick in the fire. You warm your dirty toes by the fire. You sit around it and listen to your Grandpapa tell you old, old stories.
Sometimes when you are camping in the mountains, especially with your Grandpapa and your Uncle Taido, you push your body further than you ever thought it could go.
You climb and climb and just when you think you cannot possibly go another step, you catch your breath and take a few more. You do this over and over until all of a sudden you are standing on top of a mountain and never in your life has the world ever been quite as beautiful as it is right in that moment. That moment, hard won with today’s sweat and tomorrow’s aches and pains, is only possible because you came on this camping trip.
You will carry that moment with you for far longer than the mildew smell of your wet tent or the itchy red bites on your skin.
I hope you will carry it for so long that it will compel you to go camping again one day.
I hope you will grow up and take your own children camping and carry on these wild traditions of spending your vacation days being outside together, telling the old, old story around the campfire and getting dirt under your fingernails.
Love you each so much,
PS. Here are a few of my favorite photos from this summer’s trip taken by Uncle Taido, me and your mama/Aunt Whitney.