Oct 12, 2012

Last Camping of the Season

I awoke with a jump. Loud voices rudely sounded from the next pad as flashlight beams painted frantic patterns on our tent walls. The night before, the surrounding sites were empty. But, sometime in the night, the next door campers stealthily snuck in. Then, just before dawn, they retreated, way before the warden could ask for a park fee. Courtesy would have kept their chatter to a whisper, but their roar moved this sleeper to rise.

Sneaking out of the tent, I greeted the dawn with a yawn or two, and stillness. They were gone. I looked out at the morning star hanging over a glimmer of breaking light on the Gulf Islands. The Salish Sea was like glass. In the distance, to my right, I could see the bright lights of the Swartz Bay ferry dock readying the 6am departure. Soon, the low rumble of maritime life would motor past.

Outdoor life is fresh at this hour. Time to light the old Coleman stove for a brew. We rested in foldable chairs, slowly sipping our coffee, watching the day come alive, bundled for the cool. The photographic-like splendor spread before us like a spectacular wall hanging.

In the brightening twilight before the sunrise, I noticed a movement along the beach. Sea life; perhaps an otter, or maybe something larger? It was another camper, a young woman who had slipped out from her tent and down the embankment. She was sitting in front of a large driftwood log and looking around as if wanting to hide from others. There were no others. She was alone.

Her long black hair partially covered her simple beauty. Like a snake slithering from it's skin, she slowly peeled her sweater and skin tight leggings reveling a beauty of pure white, in stark contrast to her black skimpy panties. Again, she looked around to see if others had seen. We were far enough away and hidden by a large rock that she must not have noticed us. She quickly removed the remaining article of clothing from her most private parts then waded into the cold water, soon immersing her whole being under the surface.

"Skinning dipping." I whispered.
"Must be cold. Go get your binoculars." I was told.

She was out of the water drying herself when I returned. I sat down trying not to be noticed as I raised my spy glasses.

"Isn't this illegal?" I thought, as my conscience tweaked. But that didn't stop me from watching this mermaid, this water babe, so comfortable in her own skin that she probably didn't care if others noticed. Beautiful, sensual as a young fashion model out of makeup. The early morning light softened the glow. Was there really any other vision worth observing at that moment?

The bushes rustled behind her and she turned to see. It was another early riser walking down to the beach. She calmly re-clothed herself and continued to dry her hair. As gracefully as a ballet dancer, she moved into a yoga pose, then another and yet another, until she was truly stretched, and eventually she sat in the crossed-leg Buddha pose with her hands together for Namaste. She was on the shore of nature's realm. Alone in her universe.

We had been voyeurs enjoying this stranger's most private moment. If she knew, would she have minded? Would it have destroyed her revery knowing that she was creating joy in our simple observation? Everywhere life is theatre. Moments are caught in time by our curiosity. We build our own moments through our senses, feelings, meanings, memories. In this, to ultimately find beauty in someone else's special moment, it became ours.

Rising slowly, she took a deep breath, then climbed the embankment and returned to her tent.

The 6am ferry subtly tooted as it observed us waving it on it's journey to the mainland. Later that morning we had packed the tent and such for our ferry home from the last camping of the season.

"Women are most always observed when they seem themselves least to observe, or to lay out for observation."
Samuel Richardson

"Never lose an opportunity of seeing anything beautiful, for beauty is God's handwriting."
Ralph Waldo Emerson

"Only when your consciousness is totally focused on the moment you are in can you receive whatever gift, lesson, or delight that moment has to offer."
Barbara De Angelis