Mom loved to sleep outside. In a hammock, on the picnic table, on the roof - it didn't matter where, just so you could enjoy the cool breeze and listen to the night sounds. It was not uncommon to slip out the tiny upstairs window onto the flat part of the roof, unroll a sleeping bag and enjoy the cooler air and spectacular stars. It was also not uncommon to sneak back in through the tiny window in the middle of the night when a fan blowing warm air seemed like a better option than a hard-as-a-rock sleeping surface, but it sure made good memories!
We were not a camping out family but I remember numerous girl's sleepovers on the concrete slab behind our church across the road. You have to understand that had we slept in the much softer grass, we would have run the risk of numerous itch inducing insects - ticks and chiggers being the main culprits.
I'm saying all this so you will understand why, when I saw the nice, flat surface of the upper story of our new house all nicely nailed in place, it was only natural for the thought to enter my mind: "We should sleep up here some night!"
Most of our children had no idea what it's like to sleep outside and they were immediately all over my idea. They certainly weren't going to let me forget that I had mentioned it nor let me get out of doing it!
Well, it's been rainy season around here, so we waited and we waited. Finally, last Thursday night promised to be a clear night. We couldn't wait much longer than that, because plans were to put the rafters and plywood up come Saturday and then we wouldn't be able to see the stars. So Thursday it was.
In typical Bethany fashion, I really wasn't sure anymore that this was such a great idea but there was no turning back now. So, I gathered the paraphernalia and we set out for the New House (as Charles calls it) soon after 9. We dragged our gear up the rickety ladder and set up camp. Me being me, I had opted to take stacks of blankets rather than borrow sleeping bags. I'll just be honest: I didn't want to explain what we were doing.
Chris and Isaac stayed at home in their comfy beds. I really didn't blame them. They needed to get up early to get things ready for the work day at the house on Saturday.
We set up our blankets and pillows and roasted marshmallows over candles and squished them between shortbread cookies. We read stories about Uncle Mark's recent trip and played "I'm thinking of somebody". I told all about sleeping outside when I was growing up and before we blew the candles out I did my best "Crooked Mouth Family" rendition. They were duly impressed.
The clouds were covering all the beautiful stars we'd hoped to see, and Ohio doesn't have nearly the after dark chorus of insects that Arkansas has but it was still fun to crawl under our blankets and settle down for the night in the great outdoors.
I hadn't reckoned with several problems with my great idea. #1. Ohio summer nights are much chillier than Arkansas summer nights. #2. My bones are a good bit older than they used to be. #3. Ohio has very heavy dew.
I probably dozed off for awhile but it wasn't a very long slumber til I woke up and made some discoveries. #1. My feet were FREEZING. #2. Plywood is Hard. Really Hard. Especially when you're heading for 40. #3. Everything was soaking wet.
The one redeeming discovery was that the clouds had cleared and the stars were absolutely amazing. So I looked at them for awhile. Then I gazed around at my house to be and tried to decide what kind of curtains I should put at the windows and which furniture might go where. When that finally lost it's charm, I gave in and checked the time: 2:30. Oh brother.
I tucked my head under the blankets and tried to forget that my feet were FREEZING. Then I turned my bones the other direction to see if plywood felt any softer on my left side. I contemplated the effort it would take to get everybody down that rickety ladder in the dark. I considered the idea of moving my old bones to the soft seat of the van.
Shall I cut the suspense and make a long story short?
Eventually, I had Jasmine awake with me and about 4:30 we decided the effort of trundling everybody down the ladder in the dark was worth a couple hours of sleep in a soft, warm, dry bed. So we got up and we came home.
And that was our first night at The House On The Hill.
To tell you the truth, I would probably do it again.Those stars were really beautiful, and I have some great ideas for curtains for my windows! :)