Ember Goforth-Shook, who in a brief five weeks will tell you BODY OF WATER if you let her, worries a lot. She gets that from me, but not twelve-year-old me. I didn't start worrying till a year or so later, older and not quite as wise.
In the campground, what was to worry about? Morning was like this: Weak, early, seven o'clock sun peeking up over the mountain, shadows spilling down the grass. The sun not touching till halfway out to the swim line, so the water out there was lit up orange, still and silent but tossing the sun back up into the sky. Quiet water and quiet minnows and quiet sand, as yet untouched by feet. Except for ours. Special, privileged. The first humans each day to touch the water.
And night was like this: Sun smoking on down toward the mountain, fires springing up, twirling sparks into the sky like stars with every log tossed on. And logs were free. Every family that left, left firewood and we were gatherers. And hunters. We hunted ghost stories along the edges of the friendly woods. We hunted secrets in the warm, soft mud. Found treasures like, literally, a silver spoon -- dug up out of the mud with our toes, the irony was not lost on us. Campfire evening leaned down into cozy-tent night with the crickets and the tree frogs singing, and all at once, shushing each other so we could hear the water lapping, soft, and the rumble of distant thunder.
What wasn't to love?
I mean, there was stuff in the middle. Daytime stuff, like seventh grade and house-hunting and grocery stores. But that isn't the stuff that sticks. For Ember, either, that isn't the stuff that sticks, because, as her time in the campground draws to a close, she stares out across the lake and she starts to feel homesick.
Homesick before you've even left. This makes more sense than you maybe realize, unless you're like us, and you've moved and moved. Unless you've ever stood and wished yourself backward in time, so you could smell the woodsmoke once more, feel the sand and the mud on your feet, grip lost silver with your toes and cup your hands around fireflies.
I don't always drift so far away, but today I am distant like the thunder, spinning toward the sky like the sparks. On this warm September evening in my grown-up town, I am looking back at twelve and it is shining like sun on the water, halfway out to freedom.