I should have figured out the Schnickelfritz was up to somenthing--we were supposed to be picking up sticks in the yard. I was putting my sticks in the wheelbarrow to tote them to the lawn rubbish pile. Fritz was placing his sticks in a pile in the yard. Then he made trip after trip into the house getting blankets, the lawn chairs, dishes and cups. "Can we have a picnic Mama?" It was a 90 degree day, but he had picked a spot in the shade and the humidity was low so I consented. We feasted on cold, oven-fried chicken, pickles, cheese cubes, oatmeal cookies and guzzled it all down with lemonade. During the meal Fritz detailed the rest of his plan.
"When it gets blue-dark (his word for twilight), we'll use these sticks to make a camp fire and put marshmallows on sticks till they turn brown and when it's black-dark we'll lie in the chairs and review the stars for a while and then we'll go in our tent and fall asleep and wake up in the morning." The run-on sentence told me how excited he was about the idea. Well, why not? It would be a warm night and the rain wasn't due til tomorrow. I had to negotiate out of the campfire--we didn't have any marshmallows anyway. Surprisingly, I found my old tent and lantern in our "still unpacking boxes" garage The tent, from my college days, only holds two comfortably but Daddy didn't sound too disappointed when informed of our plans. He would hold down the fort and keep Della inside with him.
By 7 o'clock Fritz started asking if it was time to go out to the tent. I'll confess I stalled for a while so I could keep enjoying the air conditioning. But at 8:00 we headed out, loaded with pillows, blankets to cushion us, a book, and a special teddy bear. We read a chaper of Freddy Goes to Florida (I'll have to review that another day) by lantern light. It was still too light to see stars so we said our prayers and tried to go to sleep. Fritz wasn't used to the night noises and moved closer and closer to me. He was however brave enough to stay in the tent by himself while I made one more trip in the house to use the facilities. While I was gone he made himself quite comfortable on the piles of blankets I had meant to cushion me from the rocks and bumps of the ground. I suppose that's why he fell asleep first.
It was harder for me to fall asleep. The heat, the crickets and frogs, the cars going past (where are my neighbors going at 11:30 at night?) all kept me from slumber. Finally, there was the sound of something sniffing and munching grass right outside the tent. I could never see the animal in question not even a shadow on the tent. I would have thought it was one of the roaming neighborhood dogs but they don't munch grass. It was time for one last trip into the house--this time for earplugs. I figured whatever was out there eating grass wouldn't be able to unzip and enter the tent. If I couldn't hear it, it wouldn't bother me.
When I woke up the next time, I removed the earplugs before I opened my eyes and heard birdsong. It was morning. Fritz had slept the whole night through and I would try to make up some deficit with a nap today. As we brought in our bedding Fritz asked "When can we do this again?"