Strange things happen when a woman is in a house dominated by males, surrounded by cows, pasture, dirty boots, and smelly socks. Strangely, your feminine instincts become more alive and much stronger. You find yourself desperately shopping for dresses and skirts, because as a woman you are allowed to wear them. I admit that living on a ranch has mellowed my girly quest some. However, now instead of being absolutely terrified and squealing when I see a rattlesnake, they now make me think of the cute, little pair of snake shoes they would make. When John suggested a spring camping trip, I took a long, hard gulp. I looked down at my 10-year-old Jamison’s green puppy dog eyes and up at my 13-year-old Austin’s longing demeanor, and firmly stated, “Nope, that’s not for me.” After much moaning and whimpering I relented and stated, “Oh, alright. Let’s go.” The atmosphere changed so quickly that I suspect I was duped in a preplanned attack.
Why did I think this was going to be so difficult? I grew up on the very same ranch we live now. I have bottle fed a calf in my highest heels and a Sunday dress in July heat without breaking a sweat, long before John or the boys came about. I looked at them with a new found determination. John assured me that it would just be one night in a tent and he had it all planned out. He had recently purchased a trailer that has a rooftop tent on it for their Colorado camping trip. Since the roof top tent is relatively small, it would be perfect for the boys and John and I would sleep in the REI tent on the ground. “I can do this,” I reminded myself. “Who needs a comfy mattress? This will be an adventure. Making memories.”
We made our way to Garner State Park and the sky was cool and overcast. The park was packed and we had a hard time finding, what I was told was, a good spot. When we stopped Austin was the first to hop out, and he started scanning the female population of our fellow campers and was quite pleased with what he saw. Popsy had told him about the cool dances that he used to go to at Garner in his younger years. Austin was excited about attending his very own Garner dance. There seemed to be some “passing on the tradition” between Austin and Popsy going on. John had to bring him back to reality and remind him to help unload. With the boys urging, we headed to the river. With all of the kids running around, I was afraid that my oldest child would get whiplash. Living in the country sometimes starves you for companionship. Austin seems to get particularly excited when he sees a group of children his age. But for Jamison all it took was some cool looking water to get him excited.
We headed to the outside pavilion dance floor just as a few rain drops began to fall. Austin tried to ask the petite young lady behind the snack bar counter if they were still going to have the dance if it rains, but the words just wouldn’t come out. I came to his rescue, and I could tell from Jamison’s amused expression that Austin was going to take a lot of ribbing for his loss of words. The sweet girl said with a wink toward a stunned Austin, “Oh yes. Everyone loves to dance in the rain at Garner.” Just as the children started arriving to the dance floor, a sudden a perfect almost cartoonish lightning bolt shot across the sky. The thunder boom was so deafening that Jamison clamped his hands over his ears and ran around in a circles. Dance in the rain, yes. Two-step around lightning bolts, I think not. As the rain started coming down in thick sheets, we ran to take cover. “Well, I know that you are going to be disappointed. But the tents can’t handle this type of rain.” John conceded. Despite the boy’s protests and assurances that they could just sleep in the truck, John made the decision to head home. I admit the minute he said those words, relief passed over me. “Yes, back to indoor plumbing.” I fist-pumped.
The boy’s frowns reminded me that I said those words out loud. I was a team player, willing to camp out in a tent, and embrace the whole camping lifestyle for the day. I tried not to complain and anything they suggested, I was up for. Although things didn’t exactly work out the way they were planned I like to think that I earned some respect from my menfolk for the try. And truth be told, I have always been a sucker for s’mores.