The Great Outdoors

The whaling of a nearby bird causes me to stir on the soft microfiber material of the air mattress beneath me. It grunts and groans in protest as I stretch my body so the tips of my toes touch the warm silky nylon of the sleeping bag I kicked off in the middle of the night.

The bird calls again.

A feel my brow furrow and my eyes scrunch tighter together as I grasp for a few more seconds of sleep.

The bird caws again.

“Shut up.” I mumble groggily as I turn my head into the darkness of my warm pillow.

In response, the bird cries even louder.

I moan and flip back onto my back. A fiery red paints the insides of my eyelids.

I take a deep breath in, and the stagnant, warm, humid air of the tent begins to fill my lungs and feel like it’s suffocating me.

The bird calls again.

I finally recognize that trying to get more sleep is futile at this point.

I rub my eyes and think menacingly at the bird “Alright, you’ve won. I’m up. Happy?”

As if in response to my thoughts, the bird croons once more.

I open my eyes and I’m blinded by a white wall of sun. As my eyes adjust, I see the blue and yellow stripes that make up the roof of my tent.

I scramble to unzip the nylon cover in a flawless arch of my hand to reveal the mesh window. I take a long deep breath in as the cool mountain air washes away the mugginess trapped inside.

The sent of cool pine needles and the lingering smell of the campfire from the night before flood my small quarters.

The current of the morning’s gentle breeze cools me enough for me to notice the subtle dampness of my pajamas caused by the warm summer night.

A chill runs down my spine and I zip nylon cover back over the window; I kneel on my mattress and stretch my arms as far as the stumpy tent will allow.

I find the clothing tucked away in the backpack at the corner of my mattress and I acrobatically wiggle into a new shirt, pants, and socks in the confined quarters.

By the time I have successfully changed, My breath is slightly heavier than normal and my brow is damped with a thin layer of sweat. I take a second to run my fingers through my tangled hair before I unzip the face of the tent and crawl out of the opening on all fours like a bear emerging from it’s den after winter.

I stand up and stretch my arms to the sky while cementing my feet deep into the earth. I hold this pose while I survey my surroundings: mom cooking eggs over the open fire while dad refortifies their tent, I spot my brother throwing rocks in the creek below our camp.

This was how every summer of my childhood will be remembered: not in linear seconds or days, but by the way the air smelled in the morning and the number of memories I could make between the time the sun rose to far after it expiring behind orange, pink, and blue hued horizons.