I have the best camping buddy.
This chick is camper-convivial, camper-confident and camper-kitted-out-for-any-occasion.
She is the one who always has a tin opener, space in her fridge, a spare tarp or the perfect sized water tub to wash your baby.
She's the one with the thing best paired with the other thing, as in:
Us (and by us I mean husband) 'I'm going to bake bread on the coals'
Her, twinkling: 'I've got nastergal jam.'
All of us: Swoon.
She's the one who'll stay up all night giggling hysterically 'round the fire, or ignore you for hours because she can't unstick herself from a book she's devouring. She's the one who'll bring a (fucking heavy, fucking cumbersome) canoe on the trip and then take you on a magical adventure up the river.
She's the one with the torch which always works and the balls to investigate any noise, no matter the hour or the darkness of the night.
She can light a fire in any weather, braai a steak, wrangle a misbehaving gas bottle and tie down a tent in a hurricane.
She's the one who is up for any adventure, has more energy than a pack of puppies, will always take the scenic route, and is dead happy to leave the dishes 'til morning.
I started this collage for her after our last trip, much earlier this year.
I wanted to convey that perfect moment, which makes every camp worthwhile, and is even better shared with those you adore - the one when you're sitting at the fire, its light glowing on your camp homestead, and all is still. Beyond is dark - many layers of dark on dark. Some of it glowing, some gently reflecting, some harbouring rustles and sounds of life, some holding a silence so complete it roars in your ears. It envelopes you, and settles over your shoulders like an embrace.
The fire crackles, something swoops overhead, a cold breeze niggles the back of your neck, and your buddy says: 'Last cup of tea?'
With you, any time.