|Our vintage Airstream makes a comfortable retreat. In this photo, we're just pulling in, ready to set up camp.|
One of the perennial pleasures that comes from growing and harvesting your own foods is the satisfaction that comes at the end of the growing season. Going to bed exhausted from the final canning and processing, knowing that a food supply is laid by for months to come, means a moment of respite. Those moments to refuel, relax and recharge are that much more pleasurable after hard work. For me, recurring dreams often turn to camping.
A favorite hang-out of ours is Zaleski National Forest in southeastern Ohio. If you plan to go there, be advised of the hairpin curves of the Appalachian foothills and overlooks that show off breathtaking scenery. The silence of a latenight campfire can be punctuated by the sounds of coyote and screech owls. The sparks from the campfire go up and mingle with a myriad of stars so that it's difficult to tell the difference between an ember and a shooting star. Either way, I make a wish before the flame dies out, wanting these moments to return "again and again and more gains", as our daughter would say.
Camping is different for us now. Missing is the laughter of our now-grown children. Missing are their questions about what we're doing next, since they were always ready for the next adventure or discovery. Now there is more time to relax and enjoy the magic of each moment. Although we used to rough it more, we camp comfortably these days and enjoy a warm bed and breakfast in our circa-1974 Airstream.
Zaleski in the fall also attracts the rugged outdoor enthusiasts who have managed to stretch their camping comfort zones. It is not uncommon to find encampments of deer hunters who sleep on the ground and disturb a heavy frost when they get up for their morning hunt. Brrr!
Within a few days of starting out, we've chatted with all the locals, awed over the hunters' conquests, and explored the area for its wild boar and good fishing spots. Our thoughts turn to cold weather and we are ready to head back home knowing that there are preparations to be made for winter, things like splitting and stacking firewood, getting our birds settled into their cold-weather housing, and mulching the roses and perennial herbs in anticipation of coming snows.
There is always work to be done if you're growing and harvesting your own foods but, when we have a moment for the simple pleasures, the feeling is that much more elegant. Enjoying a cup of tea while I sit near the fireplace and contemplate next year's garden feels ever so indulgent!