When the time comes for remembering this season—the end of our first summer on the farm—may this night rise to my mind’s surface. May these twelve hours of sky—lit by peach-colored sunset, carpeted by stars, then skirted by morning fog below us—play again for me, as if I still sat on our hill.
May the campfire deliver me a crisp-edged hot dog topped with my sweet-hot pickle relish, accompanied by an unapologetically hoppy beer, as my butt falls asleep on the cedar-log bench that teetered atop the wheelbarrow full of camping gear as Andrew pushed it up the hill. May I also deserve that hot dog after my own several, laden trips upslope.
May our dessert be apples—some mouth-pleasing, some mouth-curdling—fallen in the gone-feral orchard, where the game camera, which sometimes captures deer, crows, and coyotes, photographs us in silly poses. May we hike there through the woods in late dusk, when my eyesight turns two-dimensional, and I worry about stumbling with Stella piggyback.
May we emerge from woods to barnyard, for locking up ducks and chickens, then stop by the house once more, having forgotten our flashlights. After the puppy inhales her food, may I lift Stella for the day’s last climb, which Sam powers on his own two enthusiastic feet, through the hay field to our orange dome tent, where the kids will giggle and shadow-puppet their hands while Andrew and I savor the campfire.
May I crawl back out of the tent, alone, after reading my family to sleep—even the puppy—and stamp the tall grass on my way back to the fire. May the Milky Way smudge the night as my eyes shift between flames close to my feet and the pinpoint lights reaching me from years ago. May I feel exhausted and stunned by the quiet and filled with poignant thoughts about the past and future.
Later, while the stars are still bright beyond the tent’s screened dome, may the puppy, delighted to find us all here together, wake me by wriggling on my head, then threaten to wake everyone similarly, thus inspiring me to scratch her ears and tug her stuffed toy for long minutes until she returns to her blissful sleep. May I wake, full-bladdered in daylight, to realize that we’ve all slept as late as seven.
May I hear the upward buzz of the tent zipper as Andrew steps into the morning. May he call to me, knowing I will want to stand in the dew-soaked grass to see the clouds filling all the crevices, our farmstead below us, drenched in fog. May the rising sun burn into our minds these moments, which could fade behind the stress of school mornings, endless lecture planning, fear that the 200-year-old barn will collapse before we can fix it, tough veterinary cases, infinite kitchen mess from preserving the garden, and unfinished projects in the cellar.
May we remember how we stayed on the hill one night at the end of this summer, all together, and watched the Earth turn under the sky.