Wednesday, July 6, 2011


Camping in Maine with my first husband, I settled into my down sleeping bag atop an inch-thick piece of closed-cell foam. He was big on closed-cell foam, a foam-rubber-ish substance somehow constructed so the air pockets are closed and it can't absorb water. An inch of it provides a surprisingly satisfying layer of padding, much preferable to trying to sleep with a hip joint burrowing into the ground, or roots or a pinecone digging into one's back. It also provides insulation -- but not always enough. Maine can be chilly even in July. Instead of drifting off to sleep, I lay awake trying not to notice that the foam wasn't entirely insulating my butt from the ground, and I was cold.

Danny, wrapped in his space blanket, was warm and toasty -- as he wasn't slow to point out. He swore by space blankets, as did one or two other campers I knew. On his advice, I had bought one that afternoon at L.L.Bean, even though I couldn't quite picture how this piece of stiff tinfoil could have the insulating power that everyone said it did.

However that might be, I was in the tent and the blanket was still in a saddlebag on the motorcycle. Feeling chillier and chillier, I pondered whether possession of the blanket would offset the shock of facing the night air, not to mention the risk of stepping on Danny's head on my way in and out of what he referred to as a two-man tent (I would have said one man and one woman, if they like each other and aren't too big).

Eventually, my benumbed consciousness absorbed and accepted that I certainly would not sleep successfully without that blanket. The dash through a few yards of Maine woods was at least as disagreeable as I expected. I crawled back into the tent and wrapped my blanket around, above and below me, and settled again into the bag, now enveloped in reflected warmth from the blanket. It felt almost like a heat source. The last thing I heard was Danny explaining that I had draped the blanket incorrectly and that it wouldn't work that way -- as I drifted off to dreamland.