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#96: Camp

#96: Camp
Odd Spot - The Age - 25/04/2022

There was the feeling Peter was searching for. The moment you seat yourself down, crack open a beer and take in the malt's aroma and smoke. A couple of hard hours of work erecting a tent, unpacking the car, collecting firewood, making things just right.

It had been ten years since the last time he went camping. Ten years. He can't believe how time flies.

Above, beyond the canopy, he can make out the first stars as the sky fades, revealing those distant worlds. Peter recalls times when he was a boy and camped with his father and the night sky looked sparkled with the Milky Way. Back then, he couldn't believe how bright everything was when all there was was the small campfire.

Now, everything’s muted. Forty years have elapsed since those camping trips with his father, and ten since he convinced a reluctant Grace to join him.

As they sat down eating the charred lamb chops, Peter extolled the virtues of camping and how he wanted their as yet unconceived children to experience the great outdoors. That trip didn't last the night as Grace's phobias of spiders and nature meant they abandoned the tent and drove home just hours into the trip.

Matilda and Rory were offered to join their father, who snapped last Saturday as the kids were glued to their iPads watching different shows. He turned off the telly and drove to the nearest camping store.

He presented his family with an ultimatum. Come camping or else.

They chose 'or else', leaving him alone in the bush.

As the fire crackled, Peter relaxed into his camp chair. This was what he had missed.