There was room for all of us, and the sleeping bags kept the night chill away. We would listen to the sound of the river, and heard the coyotes howling along the hills not far away.
Those were the cool summer nights of the mid nineties in Southern Alberta, Canada, when the four children were young and we would lie on the trampoline in the backyard late at night, for the sun would not set till late in July and August. We would look at the stars up above. A simple painting of white little dots on a black canvas, but we would never grow tired of looking at it. As our eyes surveyed that starry wonder we would see streaks of lights as meteors hit the atmosphere and burn up, or we would follow the satellites’ steady path across the sky till it would also disappear.
These were the times where I would tell the stories of my own childhood and teach the kids life’s lessons that have been remembered to this day. I chuckle, as I recall the time when we heard a coyote not far away, that I started a story about a bear sneaking up to the trampoline. The closer the bear came (in the story) the closer the kids snuggled up to mom and I, until suddenly I’d let out this big daddy growl and grab all the kids and they would startle and jump up and then all laugh, “Daddy, you scared us!”
Now the children are in their mid and late teens, but they fondly remember the starry nights on that trampoline. Recently my oldest daughter on her wedding day sang a song for her parents, entitled ‘I’ll always be your little girl’. She wrote the music and words and yes indeed; it included a memory of those starry nights.
I have learned as a parent that one of the greatest gifts we can give our children as they are growing up is the time to tell them stories, or if telling stories is not that simple, perhaps read them a story. They can read their own books and it will benefit them greatly academically, but telling or reading them a story will create an inseparable bond with pleasant memories such as those late summer nights under the starry sky.
I loved your memories of the southern Alberta nights. I grew up in Southern Alberta. I well remember the scenes you described--the howl of the coyottes, the starry nights. Great memories. I am glad I have run across your name.