But the place which you have selected for your camp, though never so rough and grim, begins at once to have its attractions, and becomes a very centre of civilization to you: "Home is home, be it never so homely." ~Henry David Thoreau
What a lovely way to end an otherwise sombre week - camping! On Friday, my husband and I packed up the kids and drove out to a little campground right here at the tip of the city called Fanshawe Lake. Since it was Jack's first experience sleeping in the great outdoors, we decided to stay close to home - just in case. I am pleased to say that he was fantastic, actually slept in the tent and had a great time.
But I will tell you, camping sure has changed a lot from when I was a kid. We had seasonal sites that we practically lived at for the summer months, and while we stayed in a trailer and not in tents, we essentially "roughed it" while we were there. No tv's, phones or central air. We didn't sit around for very long, and were never complaining of being bored. There were always kids around to play with, the pool to swim in, trails to discover and wee creatures to be caught.
It was an entirely different story where we were. Every person that passed, young and old, had a cell phone stuck to their ear, and at least 60% of the seasonal campers had air conditioning running in their trailers. There they sat in their cosy, cool campers watching CNN.
You read that right. Through trailer windows I was able to watch CNN, Much Music and the Golf Channel this weekend. I was shocked at the shear number of Bell ExpressVu dishes I saw around the park, and how many people were sitting in their trailers watching the TV from morning through to night.
You're camping people! Shouldn't you be building bonfires, roasting marshmallows and weenies and hiking through the woods? Astonishing...
Anyway, we had a fantastic time and learned some great lessons. First and foremost, "Don't leave garbage in your dining tent!" Skunks can and will get in to find it. Oye. We had 3 little visitors on our first night due to my lack of sense in not removing our garbage. Thankfully the wee beastie didn't make off with more than a bag of grapes, hot dog buns, and didn't spray!!!
Another funny lesson I learned: When you hear the women from the campsite next to you talking about you and your children in the washrooms, walking out of a stall and seeing the surprised expressions on their faces is absolutely priceless. Thank goodness they weren't talking nastily about us - just lightly complaining about Mr. Jack's 6 am wake up "call" (which was more like a banshee scream!).
Each woman had their opinions on how they would have handled an 18 month old child letting out a solitary primal scream at 6 in the morning, from taking him into the car and telling him "no", or to doing just what I did - telling him gently, "Jack... shhhh... come lay down with mommy...". One woman commended me when I appeared from my bathroom stall, stifling my own giggles at their surprised (and somewhat embarrassed) looks.
"You're a good mom!" she said. I blushed and thanked her, and asked what I did to deserve such kudos. She explained to me that she liked the way I handled the kids, didn't yell at them "like the mother across the road" from us at the campground, and how happy they appeared to be. I appreciated the compliment, and winked at the lady who said she would have handled things differently. (I wonder if she would have preferred I had muzzled Jack.)
We'd like to try and get back for one more camping session there this summer. It was truly enjoyable, and it didn't feel at all like we were still in the city. It's amazing what beauty you can find in your own 'backyard', and how it can transport you a million miles away from everything. How restful and calming. Sometimes I think I would love to live that way...
How hard to realize that every camp of men or beast has this glorious starry firmament for a roof! In such places standing alone on the mountain-top it is easy to realize that whatever special nests we make - leaves and moss like the marmots and birds, or tents or piled stone - we all dwell in a house of one room - the world with the firmament for its roof - and are sailing the celestial spaces without leaving any track. ~John Muir