As Jack Dawson described Rose DeWitt-Bukater, I, too, am an “indoor girl.” Historically, if I had to choose an outdoor activity versus an indoor one, especially in the heat of summer, I would always choose the activity that let me sit in the air conditioning and avoid mosquito bites.
I vividly remember our brief, brief foray into camping a few years ago. We were living in our little rental house in Acton, Indiana and we suddenly (and inexplicably, now that I think about it) decided that we were “camping people,” so we went out and bought all the stuff, and I mean all the stuff. Tent. Sleeping bags. Lanterns. Matches. Bug zappers. Bug spray. Bug netting. Collapsible camp table. Everything we could possibly need for a night of tent sleeping in our own backyard.
On a somewhat cool July evening, we erected our tent, then rolled out our sleeping bags inside it, and built a fire (our first) where we used about four times too much wood and almost melted the siding off the house. We were doing it! We were really going to camp! All night, even! And outside, too!
As dusk descended and the bugs came out, though, I started to second-guess this whole idea. Were we really about to sleep outside? There were snakes in our yard (I’d seen them previously) – what if one got inside? What if one slithered into the tent, and then woke up with by crawling right over my face?! What if we were sleeping in the tent, innocent and trusting of the world, and a marauding band of escaped criminals headed down our dead-end street, saw our tent, and decided to murder us while we slept because that’s apparently what marauding bands of escaped criminals do to backyard campers?? What if we were inside the tent at 3am and things a la The Blair Witch Project started happening outside the tent? What if I had to pee?!?!?!!! It didn’t matter that the tent was sat up a mere eight feet on the other side of the wall from our bedroom; as far as I could determine, we were doomed. Later that night, as I fell asleep to the hum of the air conditioning and burrowed beneath the safety of my blankets and cushy mattress, I admitted to myself that camping wasn’t my thing. We gave the tent to a neighbor kid three days later.
Fast forward a few years to now, where Spring is arriving in riotous color. Trees are budding, flowers are everywhere, and there’s so much pollen in the air that it looks like I gave my grey car a mottled yellow paint job. We’re even getting a few clear, rainless days, allowing the gorgeous mountains to emerge from behind their cloudy shrouds to smack you right in the face with their beauty. Birds are singing, the sun stays up longer, and I cannot stay inside.
I’m craving a trip to Mt. Rainier National Park. It is my place. It’s my sanctuary and the most beautiful, peaceful place I’ve ever encountered. It’s been six long months since I’ve been inside the park, and I ache for the day when the tire chain requirements are lifted as the snow melts and I can get back to those evergreen tree-lined roads, rushing rivers, waterfalls, and the looming crown jewel that is Mt. Rainier herself. Now that we live on Kitsap Peninsula, I also plan on heading over to Hurricane Ridge in Olympic National Park. I’m excited to discover more of the Olympic Peninsula, and head to the Pacific Ocean, which is only about two hours on the other side of the mountains.
I need time out on Puget Sound. I take the ferry into Seattle twice a week for work, but it’s still too cold to sit on the sundeck with the wind on my face. The trip from Seattle to Bremerton is beautiful, and it’s wonderful to take it all in. I enjoyed it just once last summer when we were in the house-hunting process and we drove over to Bremerton and then took the ferry back to Seattle. Since we moved in the fall, my ferry crossings have been cold and miserable. All in due time, though, until summer arrives and every ferry crossing feels like a mini-vacation.
I’m also ready to just sit in my yard. My parents are arriving at the end of next month for a week-long visit, just about the same time that work starts on our house exterior. We’ve having the house painted, vinyl siding put on the outbuilding, and the old deck ripped out. In its place will just be a grassy area, privately fenced in and joined with the current private area we’ve created. And the furniture below, which we bought on Friday and is now sitting in its temporary spot on the other side of our private backyard space, will be moved to the new grassy area.
Very soon, you will be able to find me there in one of those green chairs. I’ll have my sunglasses on, my flip flops kicked off, and I’ll be leaning back with my eyes closed to heighten the senses of sound and smell. Listening for the sound of the sea lions down on the water, just a quarter-mile away. Smiling whenever I hear the screech of the hated-by-everyone-else-but-loved-by-me seagulls. Sucking in the saltwater-scented air that arrives on every gust of wind.
I’m still very much an indoor girl, and you’ll never find me sleeping in a tent, but you’ll certainly find me outside. I have an herb garden to till and plant. I have flowers to photograph and then pick to put in a vase on my kitchen windowsill. I have trees to stand beneath and stare up into, marveling at their strength and beauty. I have a quarter-acre sanctuary of my own to explore from front to back because each new season reveals as-of-yet undiscovered secrets. Part of loving my life in the Pacific Northwest means getting outside and experiencing all it has to offer. How can I possibly stay contained within these four walls when there is so much waiting for me just beyond them?