Friday, June 28, 2019

A June update

One of the greatest perks of a home-based job is having time in the morning to sit down and blog for a bit before jumping into my busy workday. 

Usually this happens right as I pour my first mug of coffee out of the pot, crack open a window to let the fresh Shorewood air in, and let the creative side of my brain start waking up. The fact too that today these early thunder are making things even moodier helps.

As this Friday begins, I wanted to reflect on my favorite morning routine whenever I go camping because looking through my apartment's bay windows at the stormy gray sky outside has me reminiscing of dreamy moments at the campsite on a Saturday morning, like the scene pictured above. That moment was captured at Nelson Dewey State Park, where my girlfriend and I spent a wonderful weekend of late summer camping last August along the western edge of Wisconsin, atop the Mississippi River valley.

What's your go-to agenda in the morning once you crawl outside of your tent? I like to take mine as slow as humanly possible. After stretching, I'll fire up my camping stove and cook a hearty breakfast of usually eggs or oatmeal. Sometimes bacon joins the menu, sometimes not. There's always delicious fruit on-hand, an occasional donut, and the mandatory hot coffee. Over the years I've mastered the art of collecting the single-serving coffee pouches you find in hotel rooms, which work perfectly for car camping and backpacking. I'm telling you, it's the easiest hack ever and perhaps life-changing. Give it a go.

With my fingers gripping a ceramic mug of steaming coffee, I'll unfold my camping chair, set it up with a view of a picturesque forest view, and spend an hour or two silently reading. I'll divvy my reading between the state or national park's visitor newsletter learning as much as I can about the park's history, activities, fauna and flora, study the trail map and plan out my day's itinerary, and jot down any notes I may have in my travel journal. Last year on a trip to Badlands National Park, I brought a pack of colored pencils with me and began intricately sketching memorable scenes of the unfathomable landscape I was temporarily living in. That's become a key part of my morning routine at the campsite, too.

Then there's the hardcover books. My go-to book I bring with me on camping trips is a vintage copy of C. Frank Brockman's Trees of North America, a gorgeous, hand-illustrated field guide written in 1968 to the major native and introduced species of trees in the United States and Canada. It's a real gem, published by Golden Press of New York, and packed with information about the hundreds of different tall arbor friends I hope to all someday meet. I picked this up in 2014 ago at a used book store and its since traveled around the country with me. While it's definitely weathered and tattered, it brings me upmost happiness to sit down in the morning at my campsite, with the aroma of fresh coffee billowing out of my french-press, and try to match the trees I see beyond my tent, with what's drawn out on the pages below me.

I feel like having a solid, golden morning ritual you can create, develop, and then practice on your own is important to really being present with yourself and the outdoors. What do you do in the new day's beaconing sunlight that brings you peace, joy and comfort?