Saturday, early afternoon~ driving up to Hot Springs after picking up some goodies at the fiber mill that hosted CiderFest last weekend. A pre-made wool batt and some roving. Which will hopefully turn into an amazingly fantastic felted play mat for Claire, for Christmas. There was also a stop at the bakery. The bakery. Picked up lunch for moi and some goodies to share. I was a bit off on both accounts, I realized as I pulled up to the campsite. Wrong in thinking I needed to bring any food whatsoever (the pavilion had multiple picnic tables covered with simmering crockpots, dishes to share, snacks, desserts...) or that three little eclairs would be sufficient to share with what looked to be about two dozen women. I knew 5 or 6 of them, recognized a few others. Said my hellos. This annual birthday weekend camping tradition of my friend's has grown over the years since I last attended, pre-parenthood.
I went about setting up my little tent right down by the river. Perhaps lamely, I passed on participating in the 'talent show', which amounted to about 20 women taking turns acting out their 'talents', which were drawn from a hat and were suggestions for acts/mimes/skits written by others. Just imagine the wildest and most outlandish sorts of things scrolled on little bits of papers by women in their 30s and 40s.... women who had been in the woods camping with other women for a day and night already, and had been having all sorts of fun together. Let's just say it was most amusing to watch, but I wasn't nearly there.
I ate, drank, and was merry. I caught up with a few people I hadn't seen in a long time and had fireside chats with others I'd just met. Mostly though, I enjoyed feeling somewhat anonymous (it's like that with these big group events, isn't it? where everyone doesn't know everyone, and it's easy to either fall in or enjoy being on the sidelines) and I passed on the group hot tubs, opting instead to stay by the fire, love on other people's dogs, take crazy pictures of the lights in the pavilion, make a s'more..... and then turn in before it was terribly late.
Sunday morning~ I woke and at first thought I "should" get up and moving. And then I thought better yet, I should not think of shoulds, and so instead I opted to relish the cool morning breeze, the rushing sound of the river, the warmth of my sleeping bags, and the delicious lazy feeling of rising on my own terms. To my surprise, most everyone else had packed up and headed out early, but I didn't get out of the tent until a little after 9. Oh sweet morning.
I boiled some water on my little stove for a cup of tea, pulled my yogurt out of my cooler, said my goodbyes, and headed to a picnic table by the river for a breakfast date. Me and a good book. (if you have read and enjoyed the likes of The Language of Flowers and The Snow Child, I believe you'll enjoy this similar, yet a bit lighter, read~ Garden Spells, by Sarah Addison Allen)
After my solo meal and cup of tea I debated, very briefly, whether I should go for a hike and head for the hot tubs as I was thinking, or just head right home. You know, in case they needed me. In case..... yep. Silly girl. I texted Mike, told him I was headed out for a hike, would be home 2-ish. He wrote back that they were having fun digging in the yard, and for me to have fun. With that bit of info in my back pocket, a 'green light' in my mind (I just had to check in, you know- one day, after more practice, I'll get better at the being away bit), I headed over the bridge and onto the Appalachian Trail, for a hike up to Lover's Leap.
I came down a different way, coming around and down the other side of the mountain. Something about the woods, the hike, the trees....... the aloneness and the stillness... something had my mind going all over the place, thinking about times I'd spent hiking, camping, backpacking. Thinking about our drive across country so many years ago (we were 18, had been together a handful of months) and how I want to do that trip over with Claire once she gets a bit older. Thinking about babies and dogs and love. Of forgiving others and forgiving myself. Of expectations and of how most often they don't serve me, that I should learn to sometimes stare them down and call them silly and toss them aside. Of becoming comfortable in my own skin as I age, and of how I'm just now starting to feel like yes, yes I am aging. Thinking about the person I want to be, the one I am constantly working at becoming, thinking the effort is perhaps the point, after all, and not the hoped-for one day product of that effort. Because, after all, I am me. I am not that other person. But sure, self reflection and character work are still worthy and good pursuits.
Thinking of the pause of autumn and the harsh yet comforting quiet of winter. Thinking about how the forest is, essentially, like a church for me.
And then I headed over to the spa buildings and arranged a tub for one. Hot mineral water, pumped out of the ground and into private, jacuzzi-style tubs overlooking the river or creek. Of course my mind kept spinning, but in a nice, quiet, contemplative way.
I got home right around 2-ish, feeling like my cup was pretty full, and happy to see my people. We had a nice, easy afternoon and evening. When my patience ran out at some point today, I realized I'll never be able to hold onto that full, easy feeling 'round the clock. Solo breakfast or not, solo hike, solo hot tub... or not. Probably staying up until 1am last night to finish that book didn't help either~
Ahhh, character work.