In my younger days, I would backpack into the wilderness to set up camp; then we had kids and began ‘car’ camping; we progressed to a Wildernest camper; our kids got bigger and we upgraded to a small hard sided camper; we missed sleeping outdoors, but our bodies are getting too old to sleep on the ground, so at this stage in our life, we are camping in a pull behind pop-up camper.
I spent some time camping with my family in the Kansas-Missouri-Kentucky-Ohio-Indiana-Illinois-Iowa-Nebraska area...you might be familiar with these areas, these areas that my Colorado mountain kids shall forevermore refer to as the “steam-room-states”. Yep you guessed it, we were there when it was hot and humid. The kind of weather that you wonder why on earth did you ever think camping was a good idea when the hotel down the road has air conditioned rooms.?! Anyhoo, we still wanted to camp so we decided to treat ourselves to hot air flow from a big box fan that we packed for the trip. Wanting to use this fan to sleep at night for some semblance of comfort is what leads me to the point of this story.
To run a fan, you need electricity, to have electricity, you need to plug the camper into a power source. There are many really nice state campgrounds designed so that you feel like you’re camping in the woods, though you’re plugged in. So that’s where we stayed on our camping road trip. It was great, yet I observed something and I’m not sure what to call it. Once we were all set up in the state park and dinner was simmering, we would often walk or ride our bikes around the park. We noticed that in the areas where people were in tents or pop-up campers they were sitting outside around the campfire, they waved to us as we passed and said hello, sometimes you even get chatting with people about where they are from or where they are going. On the other side of the park where there are hookups to electricity, water, wastewater, etc there were the large campers that some people use truly as a 2nd (or 1st) home. That side of the park reminded me of a standard suburban neighborhood. Big beautiful camper homes, cute welcome mats...but I didn’t see any people outside. None. There were no camping lawn chairs outside. No campfire. No friendly faces, no mean faces either, simply no faces at all.
You can certainly make an assumption that the big rig camper people were simply smart and staying out of the sweltering heat, or that because of the larger size of their campers, they didn't have to sprawl their living space to the outside. But I like to think of it as an analogy to choosing where and how we live and how I, personally, want to live intentionally in a cohousing community. I want to know my neighbors, to talk to them, get to know them, develop some friendships, have interesting conversations, to experience community.
Long live the lightening bugs.