I was about to do a whole glommed-up mess of photos from our late summer then decided I really must break them up into their chapters, so to speak. My need to write and share ebbs and flows but lately I miss the ritual of chronicling our days here in this quiet space.
A spontaneous invitation from my intrepid friend, The Wabi Sabi Wanderer resulted in me packing up the four kids and heading off camping. Alone. With four kids. Did I mention that my husband didn't come with us?
But dear Wabi Sabi has been taking these kinds of trips all summer. She said, "Yes, you can!" So I did.
There was the night of the screaming toddler. Then the day of constant rain where we had to eat lunch in the tent. We ended up going to a movie at a local theatre to pass the time. Good plan! One more night with the restless toddler.
I called my mom and she picked up the toddler and her big sister who had had enough camping. The last full day was spent on a beach on the Ottawa River, playing in the sand. The girls discovered a mine of clay under that sand, and spent the afternoon sculpting beautiful wares.
I saw my oldest daughter reveal glimpses of her woman-face, all cheekbones and beauty. I saw hints of my son as a teenager. I felt their wonder at a wild creek, as magical as the doorway to Terabithia. I listened to their jokes and stories around the fire, happy to pass the torch of entertaining everyone on to them. And my love for this friend and her children grew all the deeper for all the memories we have made together over the past 10 or so years.
Glow stick performances in the dark, tall tales of the Wild Banana, taller tales of wolf-eyes by the privy (teeny tiny wolves about the size of, ahem, raccoons), and lots of stories about the Titanic. Sharing food between campsites, shifting from fire to fire, greeting each other in pajamas, welcoming each other's children to our outdoorsy hearths.
It was a joy.
When we talked about that trip recently, you know what my kids remembered and enjoyed the most?
The rainy day.
The day where all we could do was sit in the tent eating peanut butter and jam sandwiches, playing Mad Libs with friends, and snuggling into our sleeping bags.
And I thought that rain was among the worst things that can happen on a camping trip, caught up in the logistics of keeping things dry, making sure everyone was warm and comfortable.
Camping teaches children to live simply and to be grateful for a warm fire and hot chocolate when they wake up, a towel after a swim, and dry socks at bedtime.
I felt most grateful to see their faces in the early morning tent-glow, sleeping safely and peacefully, ready to face a new day outdoors with a smile and a sense of wonder. I learned a lot too.