Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Patio camping

At kids' services on Saturday, I'm told the kids' service leader read the under-5's this Sukkot story and Z. has been in an ecstasy of living out the details of the book since then.

Last night, we slept in the sukkah. It was Z.'s suggestion but I was the one who made it happen--there aren't many years when it comes together: a warm enough, dry enough night, no guests, and no school for anyone the next day.

Sleeping isn't one of my strengths, and last night reproduced the conditions of both of the two longest consistently bad stretches of sleep I've ever had: the nights I spent in shelters on the Appalachian Trail, and the months in Z.'s second year when I slept close enough to her to touch her and her every twitch had an analog in my dreams.

So it was more of an aesthetic experience than a night of rest. Crickets, airplanes, traffic, a kind of nighttime hum from all the houses around us. The full moon, corona'd with a slight haze. The shadows of the garden on the green walls of the sukkah. The rough surface of the sleeping pad beneath me, the contrast between the warm covers and the cold, moist air. Sleeping with a hat on.

The sukkah is where I use up my tree-trimming energy, so we have a couple of boxes of harvest-y ornaments I've searched out in the after-Christmas sales, and they ringed us in two tiers. Usually I hang them all on the strings of lights that light the sukkah at night, but this year I contented myself with putting up the glass ones and strung up a line of purple cotton yarn at Z.'s level for the wood and metal and dried-gourd ornaments.

She was so serious and careful, making sure there was a green wire on each ornament's loop, hanging them equidistant from each other in each section of the wall. There's so much more her fingers can do now, and so many more things she's considering at the same time.

She needed me to soothe her through her buzzing excitement when we first lay down, and she woke a couple of times in the night. Once she saw I was putting my hat on, and wanted to put hers on. Once she thought she wanted to put the extra t-shirt on I'd brought out just in case she needed another layer, but she changed her mind and decided she just needed to rearrange her covers. Both times she went right back to sleep with no coaxing from me.

Me, I drifted into dreams and back out of them. Our street is eerily quiet at 4:15. A car starting up at that hour echoes strangely. Our three-storey house looms, when seen from the ground twelve feet away.

We woke and pulled on fleeces and sweaters to eat our breakfast in the sukkah: oatmeal, cocoa. A. davenned outside, with lulav and etrog (alas, once again, the etrog smells like wax to me). And then slowly our indoor lives took over again--showers, DVD's. Dishes.

We're sleeping inside tonight, but there is something comforting to me about having touched base again with that kind of halfway-sleeplessness, where my sleep weaves in and out of the night itself.


jo(e) said...

And what a great experience for her!

S. said...

It has been a complete joy to experience this holiday through her embrace of it. I think probably also because (unlike Passover and Hanukkah) I have only celebrated it as an adult, seeing her entering it feels especially magical. I'm really following her.

Magpie said...

That's very cool - and putting it into the realm of the aesthetic makes it very much more so.

Jody said...

Beautifully expressed -- also, I miss the easy outdoor sleep of my youth. I'm far more restless now, although as you evoke, that has its own aesthetic value.

Tall Kate said...

Beautiful post.

(un)relaxeddad said...

That sounds like quite a wonderful experience - closest I've come were the nights I spent with dudelet when he was in hospital and we'd wake up together, him holding my finger.

But I think I'd like to do that with him quite a lot.

S. said...

Jody, I'm not sure I ever feel asleep easily outside, but I used to stay asleep better once I got there.

(un)relaxeddad, I hope you get that chance.