As the days get longer and the sun warms the earth we are at that perfect time of year when we can open our windows at night and I am reminded of so many happy times from my childhood. I can’t see the stars from my bed but with the window open I can hear the outside sounds and feel the fresh air on my face. Most of the time I fall asleep on the downward trajectory towards my pillow but some nights I listen to the pleasant night sounds. Well, except for that dang truck that roars down our road about 100 miles an hour. I can never understand why, in the middle of the night, a truck needs to be travelling up and down our road. AND he has his music blaring. In the middle of the night!
Unfortunately, I can hear this guy with the windows closed as well. But, somehow his loud muffler is more disturbing when the windows are open and I am trying to listen to night sounds. The fresh air and the sounds easily take me back to my early years and the times momma and daddy took us camping in the mountains or we pitched a tent beside some lake or river. Momma cooked everything in a big ol cast iron skillet. I don’t know why, but bacon and eggs (and French fries) always tasted so much better cooked over the campfire in her big skillet. Then we got a nifty, green, stove-like contraption with two burners that ran on a bottle of gas. It still tasted good to me. And it was so funny to hear daddy say, “By Thunder momma!” when it wouldn’t light.
We camped a lot in the summers but at the earliest signs of spring, I looked for the first warm night so that I could sleep outside under the stars. I would beg my next older sister to come outside and sleep with me. We had some little fold up cots that we used to camp out. They had the coolest, thin “mattresses” that could be laid upon the cot. She would finally agree and then we had to work on daddy to set up the cots. I believe that the problem was that he had to locate them in the barn. Then we had to dust them off and wipe them down. Once they were set up we took to getting them ready for a nighttime of sleep. We tucked sheets around that mattress and then added blankets and then went back into the house to get more blankets just in case it got too cool.
We had to be careful on those cots because the ends folded inward and if a small girl wigged too much then suddenly the head of the cot collapsed and she slid off into the grass. We tunneled out of the covers, fixed the cots, and giggled. We would have to re-tuck the sheets and re-work the blankets. We loved to hold onto one edge of the sheet and pop it into the air to float back down, all smoothed out, onto the bed. Of course, this had to be done several times with the sheet as well as with the blankets. All the time working around the cats who were going to sleep with us.
We started our outdoor adventure as the night was turning from dark pink to dusky gray so that by the time we finally settled it was just about bedtime. We set up the cots in the back yard outside of the porch so that we could be under the stars and be really camping out. I kept my eye on the kitchen light so that I would know when momma and daddy went to bed because then it was all real. We were out there alone – well with several cats.
By early morning I was always freezing and my sister was sneezing her head off. Wearily we dragged our covers from the cots, through the back porch, and onto our shared bed. I could never talk her into two nights in a row. As we got older, I couldn’t talk her into it at all and I was too scared to sleep out there by myself. Now, I refuse to give up my bed for a little fold up cot, no matter how cool the thin mattress seems.
However, my windows are open and I am listening to the sounds of spring.