Ricker Pond reflections

Ricker Pond

Ricker Pond, Vermont / Joshua Kay

Sometimes sleeplessness is a good thing

To camp at Ricker Pond in Vermont, you need a good sleeping pad. The ground is stony, and you can’t clear the smallish cobbles.

So get a good pad. Join the talkative loons and numerous chattering brooks and wash of stars in the night sky. Breathe the Green Mountain air. Swim in the clear pond. Forget how hard you worked to get there. Don’t think about the days ahead in the next beautiful place. Just be fully present in this one. All that lies ahead will have its own time soon enough.

At Ricker Pond, I was reminded as my son slept next to me that young children travel in their sleep, as if their desire to explore doesn’t stop even when they’ve passed beyond wakefulness. That night, my 8 year old son shifted and turned, ending up by morning twisted in his sleeping bag. My wife and I remained squarely on our pads, as did our daughter, who is 11 and becoming less childlike by the week. The three of us looked orderly lined up in our parallel sleeping bags, while the boy finished the night with his legs across mine and his head in a corner of the tent. But he seemed to sleep well even as dawn came and the forest birds began to sing.

As usual on the first night of camping, I slept poorly, but I stopped minding that a few years ago. It gives me a chance to hear where I am. As all else goes quiet — my family, the campground, cars on a nearby road, my mind — the night sounds come alive. On Ricker Pond, the loons howled and laughed from dusk to dawn. Water rushed and trickled in the brooks. The wind whispered in the trees and rustled the fabric of our tent. Small animals scampered past. Nearly sleepless on the first night of camping, I was awake to my own wonder, at my most open and receptive, free to breathe and to listen.