Cedar Lee April 19th, 2013
You know when the full moon has just come up over the horizon and it looks huge? I can remember experiencing a few particularly spectacular full moons in my lifetime. One of them was on a camping trip with friends.
It was a few years before my first child was born, so I guess we were all in our mid-20s. It was my husband, myself, our two single friends, and our now dearly-departed dog, Clara. I don’t remember where exactly we went, but I think the choice was made based on it being classified as the most strenuous hiking trail in Maryland. We then upped the ante even more and decided to go off-trail for most of our adventure and really go exploring the wilderness–a 20-mile round trip.
We climbed nearly vertical rock faces (handing the 50-pound dog up to each other when necessary), meandered through the most peaceful forests of majestic trees, played in streams, and found breathtaking vistas and one secret spot with a cave, a waterfall, and charming little chairs and a table that some other explorers had created out of rocks.
We had brought hammocks to sleep in so we wouldn’t have much to carry, and foolishly, we didn’t account for how cold it would be, or how much colder you feel when hanging in the breeze in a hammock. Our blankets, as an understatement, were not sufficient. The dog had a cozy little bed on the ground so I think she was okay. But that night all four of us humans in our hammocks laid there shivering miserably. All of us thought the others were sleeping, and none of us wanted to disturb anyone else, so we all suffered in silence for hours.
Finally I heard my husband get up and his footsteps crunching around in the darkness, so I got up too. It must have been about 3 in the morning. Our teeth were chattering and we laughed as we both started gathering wood for a fire without the need to say anything. Within 2 minutes both our friends were up and doing the same. So we ended up all lying on the ground in our thin blankets around a campfire, still cold but able to sleep at least for a couple of hours before the sun came up. It was easily the most miserable night of sleep I’d ever had in my life to that point–I hadn’t had kids yet, you see.
But, that night was also one of the most magical and memorable nights of my life, the kind of night when your whole being feels alive and humming with adventure. We were cold and miserable and in pain from hiking 10 miles off-trail into the middle of nowhere, but we were young and happy and our spirits were high. That night, there was a full moon. We had made camp not too far from a gigantic field of tall grass and wildflowers on a rolling hillside. After we got up in the middle of the night to build up the fire, we walked a little bit over to the field to check out the moon.
It was so bright that once we got into the clearing it almost felt like daylight! The sky was clear and we could see the Milky Way. We all sat down on the hillside and just gazed at the gigantic moon in wonderment. I felt contentment and gratitude, like all was well in that moment, true abundance.
That’s the same kind of feeling I get from this painting.
Tranquil Moonlight. 24″ x 30″, Oil on Canvas. © Cedar Lee 2013