I sipped strong, sugared tea. I challenged my bladder for when I would snuggle down in to my sleeping bag. I had bought the bag ages ago, well-made with down fill. My back ached on Day 5 of mostly damp, rainy days. On some nights the rain came down so hard the tent wept. I had slept in my car the night before.
I sipped strong, sugared tea. I felt alone, or lonely or maybe just vacant. Or invisible to others as I had been while making attempts in friendships. Once, a person invited me for tea, but she forgot I was coming and wasn’t home. I waited nearly an hour before she suddenly showed, but then had no time for tea. I left with mixed feelings. But on this day of camping, my physical movements, my pen to paper reminded me that I was here, nowhere else. I was present and on time with myself. I wanted to strip off my clothes, every last stitch, and stroll through the camp to see if anyone noticed me. Not for shock, but to hear anyone say, ‘There, there she is, look it’s a person.’
I sipped strong, sugared tea. The wind had shifted and the smoke of the campfire felt like lemon juice in my eyes. A scented memory was delivered by my brain. My mother’s Pennsylvania sisters always brought her favorite Lebanon baloney during their New York summer visits in the 50’s and 60’s. A smoky-smelling, dark deli meat. A salty, spicy blend, with a bite of tang because it was cured-smoked for three days. The aroma was a part of my mother’s (misnomer) Pennsylvania Dutch roots. High in the Alps, was more accurate for this one genetic slice of her. All her sisters: Hilda, Ethel, Mary, Ora loved my mother, Verna. They’d also bring her one-piece cutlery, and pretzels in a tin as large as a clothes hamper. Or so it seemed; I loved those pretzels. It was the whole art of giving and sincere caring in those events that I missed, as I sat in the curls of smoke.
I sipped strong, sugared tea. I stared ten feet in front of me in to the ancient spruce woods that were dampened and darkened from last night’s thunderstorm. I never feared the power or sounds of storms, but felt comforted by them. This comfort-belief that I created within myself, was that during rains or thick fogs, those who had loved me but had passed over, could hear my thoughts.
I sipped strong, sugared tea. I had talked to my parents as the storm passed slowly overhead the evening before. It was a long and lovely talk on what they gave me for my walk in life. I felt their strength inside me. “Thank you,” I had said to the thunder, which along with the lightning seemed to blend with each thought that surfaced. “I’ll be okay.” The sky seemed to repeatedly light up in response to each one of my thoughts. I felt like a lightning rod, a receiver of love. I had started to cry, and the drops of rain pounded harder on the roof of my car, as if they had all gathered and thickened to answer me with an immense presence. The three of us cried together.
I sipped strong, sugared tea. My warm breath rose with wood smoke in the cooling air. Ocean sounds. Light winds. I placed another log on the fire. A bit of ash had floated in to my cup. Ash to ash, dust to dust. I swiped and absorbed a couple of tears on to my gray hoodie, and I smiled as I thought back on how the sun shone earlier from noon to almost sunset.