The king made the decision – they would seek refuge for the night high in the trees. And so the royal family made preparations to camp perched in the branches of a towering poplar.
They climbed into her branches and peered through the leaves into the enchanted forest. The queen and her two small children settled in for the long, cold night while the king scavenged for firewood with their trusty Boxador.
He returned with a cart full of freshly chopped wood and built a fire high above the forest floor. The family huddled around the small fire and roasted their dinner, keeping the aroma of sweet meat in the leafy canopy in the growing darkness.
When the stars began peeking through the leaves to get a glimpse of the royal family, the queen prepared pallets upon which they would slumber. The king stoked the fire and the queen tucked the small boy and girl into their downy blankets.
The poplar embraced the family with her giant limbs while they gave way to sleep. The ever-attentive dog kept watch for the wild things of the night…
We had a true Terabithian adventure last weekend – we spent the night in the tree house directly under the stars. It was all Ronnie’s idea, and the kids were understandably thrilled about the plan.
I, on the other hand, wasn’t really what you would call a happy camper. It was cold and windy and I was miserable. We only own two sleeping bags, so the kids naturally got those, so Ronnie and I covered up with rather inadequate (for the circumstances) blankets and froze our butts off. The cool breeze chilled me from every angle – it had the unique advantage of even being able to get us from underneath since we positioned ourselves in a tree.
Ronnie tried so hard to make me comfortable. He was really sweet. He moved my cot closer to the fire and told me he’d be fine if I went to the house. I couldn’t sleep at all. I swear every time I closed my eyes, the fire went out. We spent all night trying to keep it going. All I could think about were Copperheads. And when I did manage to doze, I dreamed of fighting off the bears that were trying to eat us.
Sometime in the middle of the night, Ronnie and I were lying there, freezing and resigned to the fact that we weren’t going to sleep, and he said to me, “At least you’re being a good sport.”
“I am?” I asked, a little surprised, but proud of myself.
“Not really,” he answered, “but at least you’re doing it.”
And that kind of summed up the night for us. I wanted morning to come so badly.
Then, to our surprise, we heard Kendra’s sweet little voice. “The stars in the trees look amazing. This is so cool.” I looked over to see her sleepily enthralled by the view above her.
That changed everything. Even when she needed to walk all the way back to the house to use the bathroom and get more socks, it didn’t bother me. I didn’t even notice the cold while we walked. Well, while I walked and she skipped and chattered about how cool it was to walk in the dark and how amazing nature is.
When we got back to the tree house, I zipped her back into her sleeping bag and she went right back to sleep. I checked on Max. He was snoozing happily even though he was completely uncovered. I felt him and he was somehow warm as can be. I zipped him back up, too.
I climbed back in my cot. Even though we had hours left until dawn, we were out of firewood, and it was getting colder and colder, it was somehow not quite as terrible knowing how much fun the kids were having.
I think they’ll remember it forever. And we will, too. And I think we all might remember it as the royal family on an enchanted adventure…