There are few things as wonderful as the sound of light rain pattering on a tent. One summer, my sister Kim and I packed up the car for Olympic National Park in Washington State. We set up camp among the evergreens, neither of us guessing how hard it would be to start a fire in a rainforest. It rained the first night, and every night after that. It wasn’t a drenching, flooding kind of rain, but rather a pleasant, tender rain, like sprites dancing atop the thin fabric of tent. It rained mostly at night, making the days mostly dry, but fresh with the coolness of washed dawn.
Once when we were snuggled in our sleeping bags, we heard a most unusual sound, a pre-dawn whup-whup-whupping like nothing in nature. We listened attentively for twenty minutes or more until the morning blushed against the tent window. My sister and I bent our heads together, both fully awake and whispering guesses into the chill air. Animal? What could it possibly be? Automobile? Unlikely and not quite. Alien? Perhaps. Later we discovered it was the rhythmic beating of a forest fowl’s wings, a male mating ritual that had managed to stir two females of the wrong species. I will never forget that camping trip, the crisp smell of pine and damp, rich forest floor. And sometimes I revisit that trip, recalling sights and smells and the smoky taste of coffee that has been boiled on a campfire. Heaven. Sometimes I wonder if I dreamed it.