My husband and I love camping and being outdoors. When we lived in the city (Seattle) we had a private backyard on a dead end street. One evening after we’d returned from a camping trip, I mentioned I missed sleeping outdoors under the stars.
Next day Joseph rigged up a folding tarp on a pulley system so we could sleep outside. We moved outdoors in June, moved the whole bedroom (bed, end tables, lamp) under the tarp and slept under the stars till mid-November. My husband is (and I love this about him) a man of action.
We put tablecloths that didn’t mind getting dirty on the end tables. At the foot of the bed the herb and flower gardens blossomed. We let the lawn turn to field and our cats slept like lions in the tall grass. Each morning we woke to birdsong. The apple tree bloomed and turned to apples. It was quite idyllic.
I encouraged red and pink morning glories to grow up over the top of the bed where I’d nailed up a long piece of curved driftwood like a headboard.
One morning we woke to find a hummingbird in the morning glories, right over our heads. Barely moving, I nudged Joseph under the covers and whispered, “Don’t move … but open your eyes.”
Have you ever heard the hushed little whirring sound hummingbird wings make? There we lay, watching a hovering hummingbird bury his beak in each morning glory not a foot away.
Other nights we’d hear snuffling in the bushes. Joseph and I would quietly sit up as our cats peeked tentatively toward the yard (is it bigger or smaller than me?). We saw raccoons and muskrats — and once a rarely seen mountain beaver — cross the lawn, all seeking the fragrant plums and apples from the trees a few yards away.
In the Northwest we have a drought from June thru early October (though no one believes us) so the first few months were dry as a bone. Then in October the rains started and the cold fall weather.
I, for some inexplicable reason, thought it would be cool to sleep out till Thanksgiving.
Every night after the rains began we’d go outside at night and snuggle in under the tarp. A Northwest rain isn’t like rain in most places, hard and steady. Our rain is more like a constant misting.
Still, when you’re under a tarp in the rainy season, that mist can add up. We had to pay attention to the overhead pools and prod them to the outer edges every so often so they didn’t overflow onto us — that only had to happen once to teach us why draining it off is necessary!
As the weather cooled, we made many small concessions to the cold, but we made them so slowly we didn’t notice how far we’d gone beyond reason.
We had an electric blanket under our sheets to warm the bed before we’d go out each night. We kept adding blankets till they were 6-8 deep.
In summer I wore cotton jammies, but as the nights got colder, I added clothing. By early November I was wearing Joseph’s expedition-weight thermal ski leggings and a sweatshirt over a sweater over flannel jammies with thick wool socks. I must have looked like the bulky stack-of-tires Michelin man as I headed out to bed!
One night in early November we realized it had rained ten evenings in a row and I finally gave in. The next day we moved the bed and all furniture back inside and slept in the bedroom, like normal people.
Now it’s spring and the nights are warming up. I’m already wondering about dragging a spare bed up into the field so we can sleep under the stars again.
Thank goodness I married a man who doesn’t think I’m crazy when I make suggestions like this. He knows the secret of keeping romance alive and I thank God daily having him in my life.
May each of you in relationship know such joy as we have been blessed with in our marriage.
And now a short list from Joseph for our guy readers …
How to Keep Your Wife Happy
1. Listen when she thinks you’re not.
2. Figure out what she wants and give it to her.
3. Foreplay is anything unexpected. Vacuum her car, put money in her wallet without telling her, do the dishes and then don’t make a big deal about it.
4. Put lots of laughter in your marriage. Romance happens when you both smile.
5. Nothing’s more attractive than a glint in your eye.