Moose ears and canned beans never got old.
I woke up to my two sisters gruffly pushing me back to my side of the tent. My sleepy argument of cuddling to stay warm fell on deaf (or partially frozen) ears. The five of us–my four siblings and I–finally pulled ourselves out of the tent when promises of hot chocolate made their way into our dreams. Chocolate always worked on us, and my parents and uncle knew when convincing needed to happen. It was below freezing that morning, that Thanksgiving morning in Southern Missouri, and yet again our parents used their time off work to take us on a snowy Midwestern adventure.
I had a strange, sad desire to constantly conform at a young age, and it was hard to do so when major holidays were spent isolated in the woods instead of surrounded by thousands of calories’ worth of food, gifts, and cousins you haven’t seen in years. I found it difficult to describe many of my holidays to friends or teachers, because I wanted so badly to tell them, “I stuffed my face with turkey and pie.” In reality, I woke to the smell of a campfire, a frozen nose, and the sound of winter. The sound of winter in Missouri is this: silence, until your mom is walking on the crunchy leaves outside your tent telling you to wake up for the 5th time that morning. My parents may disagree, but once their herd of children were stuffed with hot chocolate and granola, and sunlight finally pierced its way through the bare oaks and maples, the woods became considerably louder with noises of children (read: mild arguing and horse playing). Our hikes ranged between an easy stroll and (from my child’s self point of view) a borderline safe adventure hanging onto the side of a cliffside or forging a freezing, rushing river. The best parts were racing my siblings to the top; the worst were posing for the umpteenth time for a family photo. But the purpose was always the same: to get out of the city, away from lights, cars, and general overstimulation. To see something beautiful, make eye contact with a deer, catch a snake, and get pushed out of the tent by my sisters.
I’m over my desire to constantly conform. As an adult, I try my best to spend as much time outside as I can. Even when I don’t want to, I always change my mind once I’m on a trail. The purpose is the same, but now my woods are evergreen and the precipitation is less solid. Thanks, Mom and Dad, for dragging your 5 children to the woods week after week, year after year, and encouraging them to use their bodies and their senses. I’m pretty sure I didn’t say that enough back then, so I’ve got some catching up to do.
We’ve always been a fashion-focused family.