Saturday, September 6, 2008

Labor Day Weekend

So the plague has left as quickly as it arrived... and though the rain POURS down outside my spirits feel relatively bright (although perhaps still a bit groggy).

Last weekend felt like this big event for me. You see, before we had children, Greg and I spent about half our weekends camping. And by camping, I don't mean driving somewhere and putting up a tent. I mean putting all of our expensive, compact gear into an ergonomic backpack and walking 12 miles into the forest and putting up a tent. We loved hiking and we went all the time. It truly was a major part of who I was.
Then, two events happened that changed this for me, and they happened in pretty rapid succession: One, an absolutely gigantic, humanized black bear nicknamed "Brutus" stalked my mother and I for about fifteen minutes and terrified the bejeezus out of us, and Two, I had children.

So then, it seemed logistically difficult to camp, and also I had developed this lovely, deep, and (I truly acknowledge this part) irrational fear of bears. So the idea of toughing out my fears in the night beside my innocent, helpless children seemed even more difficult. And so we wimped out, and never did camp.

So last weekend changed all this, and we did it, we went camping, version 2. Version two being putting all our things (literally everything but the kitchen sink) into the car, driving to the campsite, and getting out and camping. OH, how I LOVE version 2. How did I not discover this before? I feel it unnecessary, at this point in my life, to bag a peak in conjunction with sleeping in the wilderness. The latter will do just fine.

So we camped in this lovely Rhode Island campground which, coincidentally, did not feature bears. The children were DELIGHTED and logistically, at these ages, it worked out better than fine. Our campground actually had a few sites with little cabins in them, which we were able to get, so we had Greg and Liam in the tent and I, Aoife in the pack-and-play, and our two friends in the cabin.

The children actually went to sleep, they slept all night long, we enjoyed cozy bowls of oatmeal on the three mornings, better meals than we ever had on the hiking trail for lunches and suppers. And, best of all, during the days we went to the beautiful seaside and enjoyed the beauty of the ocean.

Liam spent so much time out beyond the waves, bobbing in the deep water with his bubble on.

"How come you didn't swim like this when we were at the lake?" I wondered.

"I just like the sea better," he explained. Good enough.

And what is it about the ocean? This vast openness, that makes you feel so liberated, that causes you to take deep breaths and to feel your heart beat? Every time I go to the ocean, walk by it, feel its swell and roll and mighty calm, I am taken. I know that if I had grown up by the ocean, I would be torn to leave. As it is, I feel calmed by it, and slightly long for it, but can manage having not smelled its salt and listened to its melodic crashing as I grew.

So now we are a camping family, and not the camping family which I had envisioned, which seemed too complicated. I have a new concept, a great modification for our family. And there was something so amazing to be at this huge campground, with over 800 campsites, and you weren't allowed to drink alcohol, and you couldn't watch television, and all these people are just there with their families enjoying time together. I loved it.

So if you haven't tried car camping, you must. And if you love hiking-camping with your kids and you're about to post a comment telling me I should give this a try, too-- never fear. Some day relatively soon, I'm sure I will. I'm just going to love this simplicity for a while. It feels so nice to do things and to be calm about it.

And so now I'm just really trying to get into a groove, a new groove. September does feel like a new start. I'm trying to have a new attitude. I have this cool little family who can actually do things. The peaches and raspberries are ripe in our neighborhood. My garden is flourishing. The river rages. Five years ago I lay prone on the floor, noticing nothing, bereft. Time does heal.


Aimee said...

I'm so glad you have discovered "car camping." Chris and I also thought it was such a "cheating" way to go camping, but boy, the kids LOVE it and someday, someday, we'll head out. There is a spot by the ocean on the very eastern point of Maine that has three primitive sites but it is a 5-mile hike in. We think perhaps, this fall we might try it. We'll see. But we did spend the summer car camping and loving every minute of it. Every minute!

Pixie LaRouge said...

I'm so glad you had a good camping weekend. I don't camp. I used to camp. I used to horse-back long trails and park in a sleepingbag under the stars. And then I went car camping, had a wreck at the showers, got chased by a giant spider, got rained on -a lot- and then the campsite got hit by a tornado. I took that as a sign that camping is not for me :-D