OK, now.  Everybody sing:

The Stars at Night are Big and Bright

Clap Clap Clap Clap

Right on the Edge of Missouri . . .

Yeah, that’s not the way I learned it either, and I’m from Texas.  Oh, well, we’re next-stepping for Summer Camp at WindWalkerCamp.  One little step at a time.

I tried – I really tried – to set up a summer camp site within three hours of Dallas.  So it would be so very easy for Dallas-type people to get to.  I tried even to buy a place with a little farmhouse on it so there would be a kitchen already in place and ready to start feeding.  I even found a sweet little place outside of Hugo, Oklahoma, but that deal “went right straight south.”  So I figured, OK; I’ll keep developing the 45 acres I’ve already got.  Even if it is a full day’s drive north.

Then this amazing 1895-farmhouse right up the road, on the other side of the Buffalo Hills  Natural Area from us, came on the market.  Well, by the time I could put a down payment on it, it already had a contract on it, and it sold.  So.  I get the Message, Lord; I get the message.

WindWalkerCamp is unique in my vision of it.  STEM camp (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) in the forests of the Missouri Ozark foothills.  Gad!  What a concept.

So we herded the trusty little white Ford Ranger from down in Dallas up to Neosho all day Monday.  That poor beast . . .  we worked her like a rented mule.  I had over 700 pounds of donated concrete-block footers stacked in the box plus an 18-foot aluminum Grumman canoe strapped to the headache rack.  Mercy!  Weight and drag both.  For sure that puppy would never fly.  Fuel consumption calculated out to a little less than 18 mpg (I usually get over 20).  To paraphrase Sir Issac, whatever she was doing, she wanted to keep doing.  You would be amazed how long it takes to brake a (overloaded) pickup truck.  Sorta like stopping the southbound Santa Fe.  When I offloaded the canoe and then the concrete footers, the truck just sort of tippy-toed back to town after that.  Picture Walt Disney’s Fantasia hippopotami in ballet slippers . . .  in white.

Last night was thin overcast with not so much as a breath of wind stirring.  Absolutely still.  We were snug abed under the covers asleep by 10PM.  The main deck is built out here and roofed over so it’s out of the rain and the dew, but it’s open to the breezes.  Several years ago I built a queen-size bed frame out of 4×4 and 1×4 Southern Yellow Pine, and I just leave it set up on the deck.  We store a futon in town to keep it from getting eaten by the critters out here.  So we pulled the futon out of the warehouse and set up with three of Kathryn’s homemade quilts on it.  The thermal blanket went first over the top sheet, then the Christmas quilt, then the Batik quilt, then the Valentine quilt. What with the time shift, all this evolved in the true dark.  No streetlights out here, nor any of Mr. Coleman’s lanterns   Right now all our electricity comes from batteries.  When electricity does get to WindWalkerCamp it will be solar- and wind-generated.  (Look up the “chispa” wind turbine.)

The waxing crescent moon glazed the whole panorama with a dusting of silver.  We hardly needed our headlamps. The hills across Gerald Creek were like a chocolate bundt cake sprinkled with confectioner’s sugar.

Friends, it was cinnamon-toasty under those covers.  I did get up in the middle of the night, and the stars overhead had exploded.  The were not pinpoints of light . . . they were LEDs.  The thermometer showed 38 degrees, still no wind.  The Dipper was just ablaze; there’s really not another word.  Orion was glorious; Cassiopeia was unmistakably regal, and the Pleiades danced quietly, brightly.  I need to pay more attention to learning the names of the rest of the constellations.  (Did you know “Subaru” is Japanese for the constellation we call “Pleiades”?)  This morning I just lay abed with the covers up to my chin while the sun rolled up behind the hills . . . and blew steam at the roof.  The puffs just floated away on the baby-whisper breeze.

If you’re not out here this week, you are flat-smooth missing it.  And that, city boy, city girl, is just a shame.  Take a mental health break, and mark this on your calendar for Thanksgiving  for next year.

Tomorrow we’re off to the lumber yard — there are still lumber yards out here — for decking and framing for the tipi deck.  Banzai!

Thanks for reading.  Stay toasty, my friends.

Uncle Pat

Rates and dates on the website at http://www.windwalkercamp.com

What the hands learn the mind cannot forget.

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