Left Out

I’ve packed my guys off to camp in the snow. They’re excited. All I could think about is how they’d stay warm. Then, I got a load of the way Nick had dressed for camp. He wore long underwear, shorts, camouflage pants, snow pants, a long-sleeved thermal shirt, a fleece vest, his parka, a furry hat with ear flaps, ski gloves, wool socks, furry snow boots, and a pair of ski goggles. He was so broad in the chest from his clothes, he looked like a very short Viking warrior, camouflaged, of course. I think he’ll be good down to about fifteen below zero. Mike packed similar clothes, but since I’ve seen him on winter camping trips, I know how he’ll be prepared. The man packed every single sleeping bag we owned for the trip along with all of our sleeping pads, which he says can make the difference between a miserable night and a warm one. I threw in my bivy sack which can add ten degrees to the rating of any sleeping bag. I think the sleeping bag count between the two of them was eight. When we got there, one boy had brought two warm bags. Another boy and his dad had five bags between them. I think they’re set. Without asking any other boys, I’m certain there are at least two sleeping bags per person on this trip.

I say ‘when we got there’ because not five minutes after Adrian and I waved them down the road, Mike called and asked me to drop by where everyone was meeting with a couple of things he’d forgotten, his rain jacket that he’d worn just yesterday and hung to dry, and Nick’s new snow camo gear. Well, okay. That is my professed job, after all. I am the runner. If they need donuts. I’m their woman. If someone has forgotten gloves, I can bring a couple of pair. If someone needs me to go to REI or Cabela’s, I’m happy to make a shopping run.

It was tempting to beg to go. I know why Mike thought I should stay home. I have trouble staying warm and my sugar levels would have been a liability in the cold. When I’m burning a lot of calories, it’s hard for me to know how many carbs I’m supposed to eat. Who wants to be the reason a trip ended up with a contingent converging on the emergency room? Not me. If they’d been staying in cabins, I might have considered it, but I still could have had the problems with the sugar.

Oh, there’s the man thing too. It’s hard for me to admit, but my guys need man time. They don’t want to hear anything about brushing teeth or treating each other with respect. How clean are those dishes, really? Did you bring a book to read? You ate what? My only problem with Nick eating junk is that if he eats too much sugar, I’ll have to go pick him up because he’ll have a stomach ache. Don’t you hate when a kid has all these medical issues that mess up a good sugar frenzy?

When I dropped by, I brought donuts. Entenmann’s donuts. What camping trip should begin without them? So, it’s not your tradition? It was always what Harold’s mom bought for us to munch on while we waited to get ready for our trips back when I first met Mike. Is it bad that I brought donuts? I know I shouldn’t nurture people with food, but I do. Would they feel the same way about me ten years from now if I always brought a veggie tray before a camping trip? I don’t think so. If they remember that I brought donuts for Nick to share, there’s something warm in that. Right? Besides, they’re going to be so cold, they’ll need all the carbohydrates they can get. Hot chocolate, oat meal, noodle soup. Those are cold weather foods for a reason.

When I got back home, Adrian was still on our couch playing video games. Technically, Adrian is not my boy. He lives next door, but spends the afternoon and lots of vacation days with us. He feels like my boy. I think he felt a little left out, watching the preparations. I’m not entirely sure why he didn’t go with them. He sounded enthusiastic about the trip, but maybe his parents have plans for the weekend, or maybe the gear was too expensive. I wanted to offer to make him hot chocolate, but figured he’d need something better than that. So, he and I loaded the dogs into the car and walked around at the park. It’s always entertaining, watching the way the dogs play and talking to the people there. Adrian lost his funk about half way through, just about the time the pit bull puppy was dancing around his pug, trying to play. Imagine, these two furry bodies that were about the same size, one quiet and one wiggly. The little pit had these really expressive ears that looked like they belonged on a piglet since they were mostly white and pink and translucent.

I think Adrian helped me feel less left out of all the fun too. I didn’t come home to an empty house. I had somewhere to go and dogs to walk before things got really quiet.

It’s dark now. I can imagine that the guys have arrived, schlepped their gear to their sites, and have put up their tents, maybe in the dark. By now, they’re cooking. The boys will make some cataclysm they call a meal and the adults will be enjoying the two cups of honey that’s one of the ingredients in Mike’s special chili.

I’m going to settle down to a Dijon chicken and girl movie unless Adrian calls to tell me they need more chaperones for the school dance. Just why did I go and tell him I could do that tonight? It would be nice to prop up my feet and hang out under a cosy blanket. Maybe it’s a good thing I’m not facing a night at 9 degrees in a zero degree sleeping bag, though I do like sleeping on snow because it takes on a good shape when you lie down on it. No roots. No rocks. Still, my zero degree down comforter and quilts with their fourteen inch thick mattress will suit me just fine for tonight.

Thank you for listening, jules


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