It has come to my attention that summer is trying to sneak away. Our barnyard alarm clock is now crowing at a time closer to 6 a.m. instead of the 4:30 a.m. time frame he has insisted on all summer. I’ve noticed that if I want the sheets to dry before dew starts to come on — I better have them on the line by 3 in the afternoon.
The locusts are out and about; their chainsaw buzz fills the air even as our chickens (and dog) search them out as tasty treats. I showed Sparky one of the shells left behind when one outgrew its’ casing — he thought it was pretty cool. Right up to the moment when I showed him an actual live bug — which apparently was not cool, it was in fact terrifying.
The nights have been getting cooler and ideal for using the firepit. It was this thought that prompted The Hubs to have a campout in the back yard for the family. He put up the large tent, installed a cot for Sparky and inflated an air mattress for the two of us.
I questioned his use of flannel sheets and heavy sleeping bags in early September, countering that since I currently sleep with two fans and an ice pack, being cold was not likely going to be an issue for me. He was baffled about my lack of enthusiasm for sleeping on flannel bedding which absorbs and holds moisture as the night progresses. That lack of excitement extended to that air mattress.
The last time we had used it, several years ago, my stepson, Jr., leapt on it shortly after bedtime — resulting on me becoming airborne and flipped across the tent. He and his dad initially thought it was hilarious. Until the bruise presented itself across my forehead, jaw and nose the next day. It made me look like a survivor of a violent crime and resulted in mortification on their part when we were in public, due to all the side eye glances they received.
We had a small campfire in our firepit Friday evening, Sparky was enchanted. He loved watching the flames and was enthusiastic about roasting hotdogs. His “Are they done yet?” was repeated every 30 seconds and he ate his campfire treat with great enthusiasm. When asked if he wanted s’mores, he was excited at the prospect of toasting marshmallows and was very concerned about them possibly catching fire.
Once they were cooked to his specifications — he announced his s’mores didn’t need graham crackers or chocolate, which was just as well since he had fed the crackers to the dog. We sang a couple of songs, and I encouraged him to tell a couple of stories. They all involved him being chased by either a) Godzilla, b) a dinosaur or c) a monster, which made me wonder how this child sleeps at night.
We sat peacefully, watching the flames dance for a while as the crickets and tree frogs sang. In the distance, we could faintly hear the marching band playing at the local football game. It was a lovely evening. Sparky abruptly popped up out of his seat and announced it was time to go to bed. We were astonished, but quick to hustle him into the tent.
The Hubs banked the fire as Sparky snuggled into his sleeping bag; I read to him the physical descriptions and characteristics of his favorite carnivorous dinosaurs as he fell asleep. As I was doing this, The Hubs was busy fiddling around outside the tent, I realized he was setting out motion detector lights, “just in case”. We were 20 yards from the house; it was a full moon and clear night. I just shook my head and kept my mouth shut since I realized something he did not.
We have a whole parade of animals traipsing through our yard each night. Footprints near the chicken coop have revealed, raccoon, opossum, rabbit, deer, mice, coyotes and a couple other critters I am not 100 percent certain about, visiting our backyard almost nightly. We were about to have a strobe light experience due to these lights. Plus, our dog, all 140 pounds of him is a breed of guard dog, who insists on letting the whole universe know he is on duty — all night long.
He was quiet right up to the point where we turned off the lantern to go to sleep. For the next five and a half hours, “woof, woof, warf, warf, woof” was repeated like some sort of doggy mantra. It was a bit more frantic as the motion lights went on and off with appalling frequency.
As I laid there, contemplating whether or not the mattress was leaking air (it was) and what exactly was scrambling around outside the tent while The Hubs and Sparky slept, I smiled remembering how happy Sparky had been with sitting companionably by the fire. We would have to repeat that experience. I also grinned thinking about the reactions of those two when the rooster would start crowing in a few hours.
Right after midnight, just as I was drifting off to sleep, Sparky rolled off his cot and landed squarely on my face. He slept through the whole incident as I struggled to lift him, the sleeping bag and his army of dinosaurs off my head and back into the cot. Unbelievably he never woke.
The Hubs fell victim to a dinosaur attack as one of them bounced off his forehead. It wasn’t until around 1:30 a.m., when the air mattress was mostly deflated, the lights were still blinking, the dog was still barking and Sparky rolled off the cot again, whacking both The Hubs and myself in the head, that the Hubs suggested we go back into the house to finish sleeping for the night.
I had the tent unzipped and had scooped Sparky up before he completed the sentence. As I stepped out of the tent — the unpleasant discovery that one of my shoes was now missing did not make me happy, but it sure didn’t slow me down getting across the yard and into the house either. Within six minutes, Sparky was tucked into his bed and a bubble bath was running so I could rid myself of the bug spray before crawling into bed.
The next day, Sparky was so happy about his camping adventure from the night before. I spent a good hour looking for my now slightly gnawed shoe and then tidying up the “campsite”. I figured it was the end of those shenanigans, except Amazon delivered a new air mattress on Monday. Nothing has been said yet, but, I think we will be “sleeping” in the backyard again soon.
Written and submitted by Sarah Roush for The Circleville Herald. The views of this column may not necessarily reflect that of the newspaper.