I have to give my dear friend Heather kudos for the title of this week's blog. About a week ago, Heather turned to me and said "We're going on a camping trip to celebrate the first day of spring." It was an idea pitched by her adventurous seven year old son and I have to say, I was impressed by her willingness to just run with it. Ten minutes later, I had invited myself and my brood and we were talking logistics, campsites and menus.
Now, those of you who live anywhere near the Northwest probably know that if you have the audacity to head to a campsite before the month of May, you are just begging to be hit with rain, sleet, cold wind and maybe a grumpy predator or two waking up from hibernation. My incredibly nature savvy friend (who is a biologist, former forest ranger and general bad-ass) had scouted out an excellent camping prospect on the Deschutes river in the desert of Oregon (yes, there are deserts in Oregon) that would be full of wildflowers, steep canyon walls and hopefully some big horn sheep.
Our trip out Saturday morning was beautiful, we found the perfect pair of adjancent campsites and spent the day with the kids checking out the herds of big horn sheep, spotting mountain goats perched precariously on the screamingly steep basalt cliffs and counting four gigantic golden eagles that circled the valley like huge feathered jet planes. Since our husbands had to work, Heather and I set up the whole camp and got everything ready for dinner, braving a brief bout of rain to wrestle a waterproof tarp into submission above us. We roasted hot dogs and smores, cooked beans on the stove and ran the camp like clockwork while keeping four children between the ages of four and eight safe and out of danger. We were women warriors out against the elements and it was fantastic.
This trip was perfectly aligned for another reason as well. Saturday night was the closest the moon had been to the Earth for the past 400 years, known as the Supermoon. We were about an hour from civilization in the middle of the desert with zero light pollution. It was incredible. As we watched the moon come up over the black spines of the surrounding cliffs, each stone was perfectly illuminated. I swear there was a feminine energy that radiated from those silver rays bouncing up from the ancient basalt and flowing back into our camp. A small space set up by women in the wilderness with our children, immersed and independent and fierce. My friend let out a hoot that startled the sleeping children in our arms. For a moment I felt the urge to join her and dance around the camp fire.
I wish I could say that the next morning went well and that we spent the day showing our husbands the wonders of the canyon. After a bitter cold night, the mercurial weather decided that she did not need our company and drove us to pack up in a hurry. Our scrambled eggs were filled with freezing water and our rain tarp broke it's bonds and almost blew into the Deschutes river. While I was proud that we had set up the camp, I was very grateful for my husband who calmly broke down the tent and loaded everything in the car with humor and grace. It's good to know that we did it alone, but I am also just as happy to admit it's nice to have a partner out there willing to do the heavy lifting and help you chase after a tent in a windstorm.
We left behind hillsides covered with delicate spring flowers and the fresh tracks of mountain goats to follow the winding dirt road back into civilization. I like to think that I took a part of that moonlit canyon back with me, a little bit of fierceness woven into a tapestry of stark and stunning beauty.