Monday morning. Our last day of camping. I woke up as the sun was filtering through the leaves and dancing on the dirt beneath them. J was already up and retrieving water. It was quiet and I could hear the our new deer friends foraging through the empty campsite beside ours. I sat down with my gratitude journal as I do every morning, opened it up, and penned on the top right corner, “27 July, 2015”. Gasp.
It was our anniversary! I thought, perhaps J planned this on purpose. When he came back, water in hand, I smiled, kissed him, and asked him if he remembered. Nope. He said, “Do I need a reason to do something special with you?”That’s why I love him so much. It may seem weird that neither of us pays special attention to our anniversary after 8 years, but we are unconventional people. And while we love to celebrate our lives together, it’s not necessary to confine it to one day. I wrote about this last year. This is the second year that we happened to be doing something fun and different on our anniversary without trying. It is pretty cool how things keep aligning the way they do!
When I met him, J was a city boy through and through which means he felt overwhelmingly out of his element in nature. I took him to Ohiopyle after we’d been together for about a year, and his discomfort was glaringly apparent to a girl like me who’d grown up with equal appreciation for urban and rural environments. But because of the changes that occurred in him after this trip, I’m pretty sure that I can take credit for awakening the nature lover in him!
This was only the second time Tucker has been camping. He lived with another family for the first 6 years of his life, but by the way that he acted on our first trip, it’s safe to say that he’d never been camping. He has no rugged edges. Really. He’s the posterboy for domestication.
Just as I saw the nature boy appear in J so many years ago, I saw a rewilding in Tucker this time that lit me up. He came alive on this trip, loving the outdoors, loving the boulder-hopping, even enjoying the swimming (and the learning how to swim!). Ok, so he’s not completely wild; he’s still the only dog I’ve ever seen that needed their own camping chair. Haha! He even got a little depressed when we came home because he was having so much fun. Seeing joy on my dog’s face is enough to brighten my day.
We spent time dipping in the water in the main part of town and also walking on trails along the waters edge. The trails were my favorite part. We stumbled upon little lagoons with rocks and boulders jutting out into the water, and one of the days, we hopped from one boulder to another until we were all alone in the center of the stream. There we picnicked in our private space in the open wilds.
In so many ways, this camping trip was a powerful healing experience, and in an effortless fashion. At one point I was wading in ice cold water in the middle of a river — in a scene that left me full of awe and one that I have revisited many times during my meditations — thinking about my mantra of the day: nature recharges me. Little did I know how insanely meaningful it would be in retrospect. I felt a part of the whole. I felt it in my core. I understood it in an intimate way. Wow.