Camping with Isaac, Day 1: a post from Seth
“After you have exhausted what there is in business, politics, conviviality, and so on – have found that none of these finally satisfy, or permanently wear – what remains? Nature remains.” Walt Whitman
I have always told Isaac that five-years old is a good camping age – young enough to be captivated by God’s handiwork, old enough to tackle short day hikes. So this weekend, the weekend of his fifth birth-week, we loaded up the car and made our way to the Buffalo National Park.
We arrived in the Boxley Valley, about a mile below our campsite, sometime around 4:00. The valley stretches green this time of year, and meanders to a tree line that boarders the western bank of the Buffalo River. In 1981, our kind brothers in Rocky Mountain territory sent a small herd of Colorado Elk to the Buffalo River area, and the Boxley Valley is where they make their home. The herd grew, and now they, along with cattle and photographers, are in no short supply there.
Seeing a group of shooters-the photographic type-Isaac and I pulled over and made our way to a barbed wire fence that separated private property from public. One of the photographers kindly pointed Ike in the direction of the resting herd. Isaac, to the chagrin of all said, “this is what an elk sounds like-Erriee, Erriee, ee, ee, ee.” The elk turned and looked, but thankfully did not run. I have heard that photographers can be a violent sort when their subject matter is disturbed.
Thinking it best to mosey on to our campsite, we arrived with a few daylight hours to spare and began setting up camp. Actually, I began setting up camp as Isaac wondered around the camp site pretending to hunt with a make-shift stick spear. I think he was hunting for black bears.
After setting up our camp, our camping mate, Colin, arrived. He’s a good, out-doorsy guy, and he knew the place for our next-day hike. Isaac took the opportunity to teach Colin about our campsite, and to inform him that he’d already field-dressed a black bear or two, which thankfully, were imaginary.
We then built the fire, placed individually-sized servings of pig on individually-sized spits, and started cracking cold root beers. As roasting hot-dog smells drifted upward, we told camping stories, and Jesus stories, even a ghost story or two. We talked about Jesus’ trip to the temple when he was not much older than Isaac. We talked about how he grew in wisdom and stature. And I hoped, and silently prayed, that perhaps Isaac would adopt and incorporate this story. And I thought to myself that perhaps incorporation is the hard part-for all of us.
Well after Isaac’s bedtime, we made our way into cozy sleeping bags in a frigid tent. Isaac slept to the point of snoring, which woke me because I thought that a black bear might have wandered in.
…To Be Continued