We cling to the good parts. We long for slowness but swim in the fast tide. As we hold on tight, often swimming upstream we are aware of what really matters to us.
My family’s annual camping trip with the G family this year had a change of location, a new campsite. Our backyard.
Not securing a campsite earlier in the year, busy schedules, we decided to make it easier without abandoning our desire for the joy camping brings. As my friend pulled into our “campsite” and started unloading their car I noticed his wife and kiddos weren’t inside.
They’re hiking in.
I love it. The G’s live five blocks away.
K and the kids “hiked” into camp shortly after and we all put on our camping bandanas, set up our camp chairs, staked claim on tent locations, put up the game table, covered the food table with our plastic red and white checkered table cloth. Our backyard is bigger than most campsites so three tents, two dogs, four kids, four adults and a “fire pit” (made it out of a large tin bucket) fit nicely.
One napped, others cracked open cans of Miller or Squirt, the kids hula hooped, made fishing rods out of sticks and string, gathered kindling. The next sixteen hours zoomed by at lightning speed and as we ate Sunday breakfast on the deck together it was clear this joyful moment would end soon. Camp would have to be broken down and we would move on to our next things. We had hoped the day wouldn’t have an agenda but this is how the summer has been, one thing after another.
As the G’s took down their tent and packed up their gear I asked my hubby to leave up our family tent.
One thing remained the same form our annual camping trips, that feeling of disappointment that the trip was already over.
Camping provides a respite from busy life for me. A chance to sit around the fire and count the stars. When it’s time to go, I drag my feet and packing up camp. Grateful to be going home to scrub the dirt off my feet and to sink into the comfort of my own bed, but a little sad we are packing all the gear away until next year.
So last night I kissed hubby and daughter good night, grabbed my son’s hand and whistled for the dog. The three of us went out to the backyard, campsite #23, crawled into the tent and fell asleep. Mom, dog and son.
This morning as I write this, dog and son are still sleeping. My back hurts from too much air escaping the mattress, two nights in a row. Hot coffee and hot shower will feel luxurious.
I am now ready to pack away the camping gear for the summer. I have savored the parts I enjoy of camping season and I am hanging on to the new memory created. Cherishing the thought of building a fire in a bucket, fishing off the deck for candy with sticks, being awakened by cars and crows but closest to my heart I am holding on to falling asleep cuddled close to my son. Before we know it he’ll be too old to want to grab mama’s hand and pitch a tent in the backyard with me.
I will hang on to traditions that mean the most to me, be open to new ones and find joy even if it is just in the backyard under a sky of cackling crows. When the stream is calm, even in a few moments, I can find, appreciate and savor what matters most, when I stop swimming against the current and give in to the beauty of spontaneity. For no one can take away what you choose to hold on to in your heart.
by J.G. McGlothern