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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Smell (the sense of smell) (07/29/10)

TITLE: S'more
By Marita Thelander


I love to camp. I enjoy everything about it. I don’t like crowded campgrounds, though. I long for the freedom to roam off the beaten path, pitch a tent in the middle of the woods, dig a latrine, and build a hooch shelter with tarps and branches to lounge under.

My wife, on the other hand, isn’t too fond of everything involved with camping. Her infamous phrase is, “Why pretend we don’t have a home when we do?” I strive to make it a positive experience for her. We’ve stayed in campgrounds so that she can feel clean: real showers, flush toilets, running water…yeah, pretend camping.

We compromised this year and invested in an RV. Big enough to be comfortable for her, yet small enough that I can maneuver it on back roads to some of my favorite hidey-hole places: toilet, shower, running water, comfortable bed, and no neighbors…yeah, a sweet compromise.

If she only knew how cute she is, romping through the forest. I can see the anticipation of the late night campfire on her face. I watch her when she doesn’t realize it. Thirty years my bride and she still looks like an adventurous teenager. A little clumsier in her middle-aged frame, but anxious for the elements of camping she does take pleasure in.

We were young and broke when we got married, but crazy in love. For our honeymoon we chose to go camping. Okay, I guess I chose. She may have had some issues with the whole honeymoon in the outdoors thing, but oh, did we make good use of that bright orange nylon pup tent I bought at a thrift store.

One thing I know beyond a shadow of a doubt, she loves a campfire. That’s why we wandered the woods in search of a stock pile of sticks, limbs, and logs.


I really do love the outdoors, but I’m more the type to enjoy a good day hike, picnic in the woods, then go home and sleep deep in my own bed. Camping…well to me it’s really a lot of work just to sleep outside. I abhor using nature as my restroom. I’m not a bear, so I do not desire to leave my droppings in the woods. Disgusting.

My husband, on the other hand, finds immense satisfaction in the great outdoor experience. I’m sure it’s a testosterone thing. I try to find something about camping to enjoy, for him. I like to traipse through the forest; the plants, the smells, filtered sunlight through the tree tops…it’s rather primal and free. At the end of the day, I slip between the sheets of the comfy queen-sized bed in our metal tent…with wheels. Not to mention a shower, toilet, and stove top. That RV is the best investment we’ve ever made.

He really is rugged and handsome when he’s in his element. He becomes protective and pampers me, being sensitive to make camping something pleasurable. I see how he watches me; his flirtatious, lopsided, boyish grin.

We may be middle-aged, but we still have a zest for life. After all, camping does have a bit of a memory trigger for me. That second hand boy-scout type tent…mmm, if nylon could talk.

One thing I thoroughly anticipate is a late night campfire. Smoke and sparks flying upward. S’mores and hot cocoa cooked over the fire. The acrid scent of wood smoke that lingers in his hair…


“This should be enough for the long weekend,” Jason stacked the final log between two trees.

“Yup,” Sandy smiled and glanced up. “Clear skies. The stars should be bright tonight.”

“I like watching them away from the city lights.” Jason built a tepee of sticks in the prepared fire pit.

“I’ll get the food,” Sandy turned towards the RV. “Gotta love a hot dog cooked on a stick.”

Jason laughed, aware that camping was the only time Sandy would ingest a hot dog.

Sandy licked her fingers and mumbled with a mouthful, “The sky’s changing colors.”

Jason tossed the cushions from the RV couch on a blanket spread before the fire while Sandy switched from hot dogs to marshmallows.

“I’m stuffed,” Jason lay back on the cushions and encouraged Sandy to join him.

Sandy wiped sticky stuff from Jason’s chin and ran her fingers through the silver tinted hair around his ear. “Happy anniversary, Baby.” She leaned close and inhaled the heady scent of smoke and whispered. “I love the smell of campfires.”

Ambers glowed, smoke lingered, and camping ensued.

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This article has been read 583 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Charla Diehl 08/05/10
This was such a sweet story of romance--kindled through the campfires of this marriage. I thoroughly enjoyed this as my husband and I both love the outdoors too. Thanks for entertaining me this morning.
Laury Hubrich 08/05/10
I love the two different points of view and then the meshing of the two together. You almost make camping sound fun, almost;) What a romantic ending.
Shann Hall-LochmannVanBennekom 08/06/10
This is a sweet love story. I enjoyed seeing it from both POVs
Melanie Kerr 08/11/10
I am not a camper but you took me with you on your journey. Lovely writing.
Lollie Hofer08/11/10
Great creativity and thinking outside the box with this story. I, too, liked reading both characters' pov. Loved the love that flowed between them, even after 30 years.
Verna Cole Mitchell 08/11/10
I'm with Sandy--for camping RV style--for romance--for smores.
Ruth Brown08/11/10
What sweet memories you evoke! Sweet story. Blessings, Ruth
Edmond Ng 08/12/10
Once in a while we certainly need to get back to just the basics to appreciate what we have been blessed with. Camping is a good way of doing just that through the inhaling of the sweet aroma of 'romance' within "heady scent of smoke and whispered," and “the smell of campfires.” Very interesting read.
Shann Hall-LochmannVanBennekom 08/12/10
Congratulations for placing in the top 15 of your level and the top 30 overall.