I like to wander through campgrounds in the dark. When no one else is awake and I have only the stars for company.
While I walk, a light breeze often moves across the place, stirring the grass and rustling tents. I can see big tents and small ones. Some are brand new, while others are frayed after many outdoor adventures; a hodgepodge of accommodation.
Everything is somewhat on display. I find damp swimsuits hung next to checkered tea towels on washing lines made of string. Beach towels and sun hats are flung across any available surface; camp chairs, car doors, tent awnings and the ground, in the hopes they’ll be dry by morning.
Piles of sneakers and flip flops, flippers and boots sit heaped next to cars, and more than once, I’ve tripped over fishing poles sticking out of upside down kayaks.
As I make my way through the slumbering tent rows, it sometimes feels like I get a glimpse into people’s dining rooms. There’s always an array of camping chairs and tables set up just out front. I imagine happy families, sitting down to bacon and eggs.
Breathing in, I smell remnants of sunscreen and fried sausages, insect repellent and ice cream. From the doused campfires, a smoky scent hovers in the air as the nighttime dew starts to form.
Silhouettes of cricket bats, tennis rackets, rugby balls and bikes lie scattered everywhere. Toys forlorn only until the sun rises.
When I approach my own tent, I always take a moment to look up. The night sky expands above me with thousands of twinkling stars against a black canvas. There are no other lights, no other sounds.
Until tomorrow, it’s just me, the tents and the sky.
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