Kristina Beers: Silence is golden; appreciate it

By Kristina Beers

Special to the Pioneer

Over our nation’s birthday, we, like many Americans, took to the outdoors. The weather was sweltering, full of haze and humidity descending upon one like a weighted blanket that couldn’t be shirked off — otherwise known as my favorite kind. Truly, I love feeling the crust of heat right through to the interior of my bones. We spent much time out on the lake, again like many Americans, floating around on two pontoons of metal or plastic rounds full of air. Either one worked for me, crisping up my skin like a chicken on the grill.

With work, visitors and family meals, our camper became a station house for any number and assortment of boys (peppered with a slim amount of girls) arriving and departing. I cooked over the open fire for many of the meals, adding to the heat and oppression, thanking the good Lord I had a beach or shower to revel in later. The perpetually hungry men in my life ate as fast as I could cook, but I certainly wouldn’t have it any other way.

I know I’ve mentioned this before, but I can’t help make certain societal observations when I’m out in such a public area. (When I wanted some peace and quiet, I actually had to seek refuge from the assault of conversation at home, relishing in a few hours of laundry and the solace of watching my clothes dry in the breeze.)

It never ceases to amaze me how families and individuals will pack belongings into a trailer, dragging along as many things and “essential” stuff in every single nook and cranny, only to spend most of the time inside watching TV or outside around an empty fire pit finding loneliness in the dark depths of a phone.

One of the nights I was startled awake by nothing more than silence. After four days of an ever-running air conditioner (yes, I may complain, but I take in my fair share of creature comforts) a mercury light in the campground that sought the exact spot I would lay my head, blinding me in my sleep, and the murmur of electronic entertainment up and down the lane, all was still and silent.

I stepped outside to hear the nothingness in the midst of so many souls and a large grin spread across my lips. I thought of how this campground hadn’t experienced such quiet in so many years; how the campers of years gone by must have been desperate to share a taste of what was hoped for when the layout and plans were being established; how a haven for families was the nugget of a grand dream, devolving into the current isolated experience.

Now, I certainly am not saying everyone has such a dismal outlook for family fun and many of you enjoy camping, using the time for family, friends, and firepits; it’s admirable and wonderful. Yet, I’m still saying something is lost when we continually attempt to entertain ourselves or our children with ever-present programs, games, crafts and movies slated at campgrounds across the nation. We pack and pack and pack Things and Stuff we need and never end up using. Whatever happened to tents, finding sticks for marshmallows and retiring under the stars? There were no stars to be seen for all the lights at this campground.

My kids grew up camping and we have our share of tales involving camping. There is a particularly entertaining one involving an 18-month-old who refused to sleep, charcoal that refused to light and two weary, grumpy, sleepy, hungry parents who packed up the tent in record time at first light. We talk about these tales and more around a raging fire (what’s the point of having an outdoor firepit if one isn’t going to use it properly!) sharing family lore, cementing our bonds and creating a base for future generations. I’m afraid this is rapidly becoming lost in our culture and it’s up to you, moms and dads, to not only stop it from disappearing, but to restore it one log in the fire at a time.

So next time you think of heading out into the (pseudo) woods, stop at the doorway of packing: put the charger down and pick up a little pocket knife. Less electronic and more whittling. Set the Lunchable aside and grab the iron pie maker to cook in the coals. Leave the DVDs at home and bring along a guitar or songbook. Sing more, argue less. Make memories from start to finish and watch the transformation begin. Maybe you, too, will have a 3 a.m. smile spread across your face when you stand in silence because it’s a beautiful thing.

Kristina Beers lives in the Remus area with her husband and five sons. She shares her thoughts on parenting teenagers and young adults on the first and third Saturdays of each month.

Leave a Reply