I was back home in East Hampton for work when my granddaughter, Lilly, asked about my next trip to camp in Maine. I told her I was driving there – 10 hours – the following week. She wanted to know if I had any special plans. I was all ready to talk about my fishing schedule, and how I would meet up with Andy, the guide from Wheaton’s Lodge, when she said, “don’t you spend a lot of your time at camp napping?” I laughed and thought for a moment about her remark. The truth is, she was correct. I do spend a regular portion of each day at camp, well, dozing. There is something about the wilderness, the lake water lapping at the dock, the air crisp with the scent of pine, the hearty outdoor lunches, that all combine to make me inclined, usually around 4pm, to close my eyes and drift off. Back in the working world I don’t have time for that indulgence. When I am up north, it is an essential part of the routine. I nap outdoors on warmer days and on colder ones go inside to the overstuffed couch in the cabin, next to a blazing fire in the hearth, a heavy wool blanket weighing me down into a deep, hour- long slumber. I dream vividly, often idealized versions of my waking mornings: sitting in Andy’s East Grand canoe on the water with the sun on my face, surrounded by a seamless horizon of lake and sky, a hawk overhead and the sound of the motor muffled by the wind.
Colors are varied, bright and alive. These lucid, daytime dreams seem to distill all that is peaceful and restorative about living closely with nature. No cell, no watch, no wi-fi. It is said that older folks take to napping because they are tired of being awake. I do it because it is an irresistible pull at that certain time of day and afterward I am energized. But for the darkness I could go for a run in the woods–I save that bit of excitement for the mornings. I am ready for the last chapter of the day: dinner and then reading until midnight. I can pick up a 600-page book and remember where I left off–a product of my napping. Of late I am reading Matterhorn, a novel by Karl Marlantes. I recommend it–as well as good nap, before or after.