One of the best things about being a kid is exploring and noticing the little things in life. Tyler and his friends were no different.
On a warm summer night, they enjoyed a rite of passage for eleven-year-olds, the backyard tent sleepover. Tyler and his dad pitched a small pup tent in the backyard and laid out some of sleeping bags and other camping equipment acquired during the family’s all too brief camping experiment.
They stacked some firewood in the pit to roast marshmallows for S’mores and cook hot dogs on a stick, the essential menu for camping.
Tyler was excited to have his friends, Billy, Cole and Mel, short for Melinda, for the sleepover outside. He had wanted to camp out for a lot time, but his dad said they had to be eleven before they could sleep alone outside.
Billy and Mel were neighbors and the three played together for years. Cole was a school friend who lived a few blocks away.
Tyler wanted to host on his own, so his mom and dad went through all the steps with him and promised to leave them alone, but kept a watchful eye on them through the windows.
Most of the culinary camping techniques were improvised, such as the use of the long wooden hot dogs sticks as Jedi light sabers locked in battle. Unfortunately, the fired hot dogs did not fare as well as they were flung two and fro in the skirmish. The kids just wiped them off and ate them anyway…five second rule.
The methods of roasting marshmallows ended in a contest of who could keep their marshmallow on fire for the longest time, which made for some charcoal flavored S’mores.
Not unlike most sleepovers, there was very little sleep, so they all settled into their sleeping bags, staring up to view the clear sky and bountiful nighttime landscape of stars.
“Look, I saw this in a book. There’s the big dipper and the little dipper,” Mel exclaimed, tracing the heavenly figures out slowly with her finger.
“What’s a dipper?” Billy said.
“I don’t know, it just showed the pictures of these constellations in the book?” Mel snapped a little.
“What’s a constellation?” Cole asked.
“The pictures in the sky made up by stars, I guess,” Mel answered quickly.
“I don’t see anything. Just a bunch of stars,” Billy said.
“Look, they’re right there, see?” Mel insisted and traced the pattern in the sky again faster this time.
“Ok, if you say so. I don’t see anything but stars,” Billy shrugged.
“Oh, I see them now,” Cole said. “That’s cool. You say you found it in a book?”
“Yes, there were some other star pictures too, but I don’t see them now. Just the dippers,” Mel answered.
“I think the stars are like a painting in the sky,” Tyler said. “Tonight it looks like a bunch of puppies playing in a yard to me.”
“I didn’t read anything about puppies in the star book,” Mel answered skeptically.
“Oh, I can see the puppies now,” Cole said.
“I don’t see puppies,” Mel crossed her arms.
“I still don’t see anything,” Billy sighed.
“It can be anything to anybody or different things to everyone,” Tyler explained. “It’s just what you see through your own eyes and with your imagination. It changes every night.”
“That’s not what the book said,” Mel maintained.
“My dad said imagination is all in your head,” Billy said.
“Imagination is in your head, dummy,” Cole laughed.
“It’s in your eyes and your head. It’s what makes us all special,” Tyler said. “It would be boring if everyone saw the same thing all the time.”
(c) Suzanne Rudd Hamilton, 2022