Cardboard has a very distinct smell when it gets wet, and it always brings me back to my childhood. There was always something magical to me about cardboard forts. I loved sneaking my moms Cutco knives out into the backyard or garage and cutting out windows and doors figuring out how to interlock and attach two boxes to each other making "rooms" for my little forts. Sometimes I would go so far as to color the outsides of the boxes with crayons or markers. Drawing in curtains and flower boxes. Towels or bathtub mats could be used as carpeting for the insides.
I must have been in about 2nd grade when I clearly remember sitting in the front yard of the house the Walton's (my dads mission companion and now family friends) were moving into just 3 doors down and around the corner from us in Woodland. There were empty boxes everywhere, and I had found just the right one to make a fort out of. Just as I had finished cutting the shutters for my window the rain started. I loved the sound of the rain sputtering onto the outside of the box the same way I love the sound of it hitting my windshield now. The smell of the moisture in the air has always brought a gentle smile to my lips, made me want to breathe slower, deeper, and take it all in. The wetness gives everything a new life, making it more vibrant and fragrant. Richer somehow.
Part of the experience of the rain is wandering slowly and deliberately while splashing in the puddles, or going for a run and feeling it hit my face and soaking my legs. But just as equal is the thrill of sitting indoors watching and listening to it landing and changing everything outside, while I sit inside untouched, warm, content, and protected. Funny that a cardboard box could create those same feelings of warmth and protection, but they did. I guess I never stayed there long enough to feel the weight of the water soak all the way through the box.
I feel a bit of this same thrill when we go camping. Real camping. In tents. I know so many people wonder why would anyone would want to rough it like that. As I was laying in my tent at Whiskeytown a few weeks ago I thought about it. The wind was blowing outside. I could hear the tree branches above me knocking into each other, the leaves rustling, and the water of the lake lapping up at the shoreline. The nylon of the tent fly was whipping almost angrily against the body of the tent as the sides billowed in and out with the gusts of wind.
My family was all around me. Sleeping cozily in their bunk bed cots and on air mattress framed beds. All the little duffel bags of clothes were tucked neatly under each cot. Rows of tennis shoes and flip flops were under another. A synthetic rug stretched across the floor where a few of Brynne's toys were still laying. We were cozy and warm while the wind raged outside. In this 14x14 foot nylon structure we had the necessities. Life was simplified down to the bare bones and I was reminded of what was important.
I love the luxuries I have grown accustomed to in my life. Pedicures, steamy hot showers, pretty clothes, fluffy pillows and a firm mattress. I love sitting in the salon and being pampered a bit, going out to lunch with my girlfriends, wandering through the shops and picking up little treasures I "can't live without". I love finding little nick knacks to fill my home and create just the right atmosphere in each of the rooms. I love my over sized chairs in the office and living room, perfect for curling up with a good book. I like having the space to host small parties and room for my boys romp around. But a few times a year I leave it all behind. I always wake at some point each night to make sure that everyone is covered and warm. As I climb back into my sleeping bag and drift back to sleep it is usually with that same lingering feeling I had sitting in the front yard under the cover of a cardboard box. There are lots of thing out there that I appreciate and thoroughly enjoy, but what I absolutely must have, can be whittled down to something small and simple enough that it fits just fine in a nylon tent or even a cardboard box.
10 months ago