Sitting In The Light

camp1Before mamahood and wifehood and life settling into the comfortable routine and rhythms of Hawaii, I spent a lot of my time walking trails, taking road trips and exploring the spaces outdoors that I felt right in. I regularly enjoyed a few nights of camping – away from the routines and demands of my life in the city and my job. I explored and walked trails all over Arizona and southern California. I drove out to the desert late at night – miles away from the city lights – searching out stars without the buzz of traffic zoning me out in the background. These days, its a bit more complicated – and I’m a lot less motivated – to get outside and find the spaces that I connect to in the most natural of ways.

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But three times a year, our ‘ohana gets away to disconnect and decompress.

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{We were adopted by the local family of “feral” cats. This is the second camping trip where this kitten ‘ohana decided that we’re theirs. Or simply figured out that we’re suckers.}
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About an hour away from our home turf, the Malaekahana camp sites sit on the northeast side of the island. Beach camping is my groove. Sand and salt in the air. The waves rocking me to sleep. Sunrise over the water with the ko’olau mountains silhouetted behind me. Chasing Shortstack through the water and looking out for the resident honu (turtles). Beach walks and shell collecting. Wearing my bathing suit from wake-up til sun down. Sitting on my beach chair (a good beach chair is one of the most worthy investments you can make in Hawaii. And slippers. A good pair of slippers can take you from morning to night. Literally. Trust me on this.) and reading (or not) a book. Camp fires with my wife and S’mores after sand-crabbing with the family. Completely my groove.

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Even in getting away, I don’t get lost outdoors the way I used to. But the experience is holier now. These days, I watch the sun rise over the ocean and begin to warm this island that is home with our son curled up in my lap. We sit – quietly – entangled with each other, simply watching the sky change colors and the clouds move across the horizon. My not-so-little boy stretches the sleep out of his body and makes his way to the water’s edge looking for sand crabs that are still scuttling across the beach, sword fights in whatever epic battles are happening in his head with driftwood sticks, digs holes and builds castles and then finds his way back to me, curls his sandy body back into my lap and settles in for a few more minutes of cuddle time before its time to wake up Mama Panda and get the adventures of the day started.

camp2{I’m convinced that Shortstack’s favorite part of camping is the excuse to wear his headlamp. All. The. Time.}

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{A couple of friends came out to spend the day with us … and beach time devolved into discovery time for alternate uses of – ahem! – beer bottles. After the beer was consumed, of course!}

My camping manifesto is simple: time with family, grilled food, s’mores, beach walks, naps and no technology. Except for my camera – this time it was the camera on my new phone which I’m still trying to figure out and already absolutely adore – I disconnect. There’s no facebooking, instagraming, texting, email-checking or other application-using for me. I do a lot of quiet sitting, watching the boy, talking to my wife, untangling my thoughts, watching people, dreaming and imagining.

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These camping trips have become a family ritual. We are, by no means “roughing it” … some would say we glamp instead of camp. And I’m all good with that. Most importantly, it’s time together. It’s time away. It’s minutes that slow down so that I feel the sun warming my bones while the waves settle my nerves. It’s the few short days, several times a year, that ensure that the deep-seated internal need of mine to be part of and connected to someplace sacred and natural is fulfilled.

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“… a peace-inducing pleasure.” (May Sarton)

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