ANOTHER DAY IN THE COUNTRY:   Answer me this

© Another Day in the Country

“So what would you rather do,” my sister asked, “go camping or stay in a really nice hotel?” Immediately, I was wondering what brought this on because my sister definitely doesn’t hanker to go camping.

Turns out it was the question of the day in this new five-year diary that she’d just purchased. We all know what happens in a regular diary; but this little volume is unique because it leaves blanks for you to revisit the question, year after year, for five years. Why? Because your answer may change and wouldn’t that be interesting.

I said, “I’d rather stay in a nice hotel.” Thirty years ago, when my kids were young, I probably would have answered, “Let’s go camping,” even though I’ve never particularly enjoyed camping — it’s the sleeping on the ground that gets to me and the lack of regular bathrooms.

What I’ve always enjoyed about camping, however, (and still do) is the overall experience that doesn’t put bathrooms and sleep into the equation. I love the adventure of finding the perfect camping spot, and the food cooked over the open fire. I loved the time on your hands as you sit around the campfire at night and the ritual of roasting marshmallows. I love “making do.” I love the memories.

For the past 20 years of my life, expediency has outweighed nostalgia: until this year when I was in the Napa Valley.

“Let’s go camping,” my daughter said. “We’ve been invited by friends. They are staying for the whole weekend. We can just go for one night. We’ll see how it goes.” (We stayed all weekend.)

I knew that this camping expedition was coming from that nostalgic memory my daughter had of our trips to the lake in her childhood and she wanted her son to experience this, too. It wasn’t because this “worry-about-germs, super-tidy, sanitize-everything girl of mine really hankered to get back to nature.

“Sure,” I said. This time I wasn’t leading the expedition. I was just going along for the ride with the only concession to my “advancing years” being Jana’s insistence on the purchase of a $19 chair so I’d have some place to sit other than the ground.

We camped, with foam cushions and a down comforter. We camped with gourmet meals and designer gear. We camped and the camping spot cost $80 a night in California’s parks; but we camped! And we had so much fun and I took a zillion pictures to prove it.

Not only is camping a good way to discover things about people in your family, so is asking those five-year shelf-life questions. And you don’t have to be sitting around a campfire to discover the fascinating answers. You can do it right at your table.

Here are some questions to get you started: “When did you last hold a baby?” “What’s your favorite thing to eat for brunch?” “What should remain as is?”

These are easy, right? You might think they are mundane, but wait for the answers — you’ll learn something. “What do you have this year that you didn’t have last Thanksgiving?” Finish the sentence, “Waking up was…”

This was so much fun that Jess wanted to buy a book for all her friends. “But would anyone really do it?” she wondered. It takes a certain amount of dedication to keep answering those rather ordinary questions day after day. We imagined comparing answers.

“Who has recently been deleted from your address/contact book?” Funny you should ask because just last Friday, sitting at the dentist’s, I scrolled through my phone contact list, updating, because I had nothing else to do and, finally, removed TTTs number. Couldn’t do it until now.

Moving on. “What are your favorite shoes?” comes the next question. Jess has the answer on the tip of her tongue, “Five years ago I would have said ‘high heels,’ but now it’s ‘Birkenstocks’ in the summer and ‘my cozy boots’ in the winter.” We laugh at the evolution on another day in the country.

 

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