Posted: Sunday, June 24, 2012 8:31:59 AM
Coyotes howled in the distance, accompanying the rustling of leaves and snapping of twigs, as if some wild creature was on the other side of the door, with only a zipper standing between the two of us. I lurched back suddenly, the sound of paws beating at the polyester fabric startling me. I took a breath and rolled my eyes at myself; the sound was so familiar that I shouldn’t have blinked an eye at it. I unzipped the tent, just enough to let Fiddles, my cat, squeeze through. The sound was comforting now that I realized what it was; a small reminder that we couldn’t be more than two hundred feet from my house, though that still meant pretty deep in the woods, considering where we lived. The sound of unzipping caused me turn around, praying, at the same time of knowing that it couldn’t be anyone but Jennifer. She stepped into our little nest, holding a plastic bag in one hand and a flashlight in the other.
“I have snacks!” she announced, taking a spot in what room was left beside Fiddles and I.
“Really?” I wrinkled my nose.
“Yeah,” she pulled out a bag of Doritos, and a two-liter of coke followed. “What’s that look for?”
“Well,” I said, setting Fiddles down next to our cordless radio and laptop, which currently was playing the movie: ‘A walk to remember’. “When I said we should camp out, this wasn’t what I pictured.”
“What do you mean?” she asked.
I said nothing, just looked in the direction of all the equipment we had convinced ourselves we needed for tonight.
“Okay, get up.” She stood, or more of crouched, and unzipped the door, stepping out into the night. I sat where I was, wishing I had kept quiet. Camping for me meant staying in the tent, even if it meant watching sappy movies and hearing the crunch of my sister eating Doritos all night.
I peeking outside. It really was dark.
“If you want camping, we’ll do what campers do.” Jen said. “Nothing can actually hurt you out here. Just bears, coyotes…maybe a psychopathic killer.”
I sighed, knowing that I now had to follow her. Letting your little sister get killed by a psycho was kind of frowned upon.
“Look,” she said once we had stopped walking, while pointing at the sky.
“What?” I asked, seeing nothing.
“The big dipper!” she exclaimed. “Haven’t you ever seen it?”
“No.” I said, taking in a gulp of fresh air. “I never really thought about it…but I haven’t.”
“Wow, really?” she asked. “Well then, we have work to do.”
Shockingly, the laptop went to good use that night, as we searched constellations and their whereabouts, running back and forth along paths and under trees, flashlights shining like crazy, all for just finding shapes in the night sky. Even as we got deeper into the woods, I realized how unafraid I was. I wasn’t hiding from nature this time, I was embracing it.