Tuesday, August 09, 2005

Camping, and back again

We've returned in one piece and Fundy National Park appears to have survived our weekend invasion. I tend to be a master packer. My husband takes responsibility for all the gear - the tents, sleeping bags, camp stove. I organize the rest - dry food, cold food, utensils, dishes, clothes, the list goes on. I have to admit that either I was extremely distracted, not on the ball, or really out of practice - because I forgot all sorts of things this time around. Twenty minutes into our drive to Fundy I exclaimed "Shit, I forgot the camera". Of course, I get chastised by Eric, who jumps, and apparently relishes every opportunity for a good chastizing. I did remember thinking about it, I am not sure what distracted me from not packing it as soon as I thought about it. I forgot the hotdogs, my deoderant...and I was blamed for not packing Eric's bathing suit. But he said he'd pack his own stuff, so there must have been some crossed wires there.

For those of you who have not been granted the opportunity to visit Fundy, it is my little patch of Shangri-La on earth. The road begins to wind and stretch down, twisting and turning. As you near the coast, the slope instensifies, until pine and sky break and you see a clear view of craigy cliffs, pine tufted undulating hills, blue blue sky and ocean - with the world's highest tides. Take a deep breath...can you smell it? The whiff of salty freshness?

It was overcast, foggy and threatened rain. We found our site. Our local Shambhala group reserved a group site, so we found the site, and Eric (a well trained soldier) immediately set up camp. Two tents, with cots. Yes, being in the military has all the perks...camping gear galore. I located the food and took the kids to the cooking shelter and rustled them a campers supper. We met up with other brave sangha members who dared camp in the cool and damp (the rest of the weekend promised to be beautiful). A huge bonfire was ignited and the kids connected with their primal roots and wanted to play with the fire. Marshmellow roasting was about making torches, not for eating. The more Owen could set to flame, the merrier he became. Aidan was testing his boundaries...how close CAN you stand to the fire and not be consumed? Harry enjoyed the tradition of telling stories around the fire with a 12 year old boy. Of course, all the stories involved death, excrement and flatulence - and usually someone losing their pants. Finally, the sky broke and rain beckoned us to our tents. I was bunking with Aidan and Harry. Harry and I had a cot and we constructed a comfy nest for Aidan in between. As rain began to pitter on the tent (and there is nothing more relaxing than that sound) I read Harry and Aidan the first eight chapters of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. Harry began to drift. I tried to set Aidan down in his little spot on the floor - he was so indignent. He did NOT want to sleep there. So, we struggled for 20 minutes before sleep won that battle. As I turned the flashlight off, I realized I was somewhat claustrophobic. The walls of the tent loomed closer and the thick darkness lay heavy on me. I tossed and turned most of the night and fell asleep as dawn broke. Thank-goodness that 7 years of childrearing has made me impervious to sleep deprivation.

The rest of the weekend was glorious. The kids went swimming in a salt water pool, Eric took them to a playground and left me to my own devices. I did the lunch dishes, and then spent the rest of my time lounging and reading the climax of The Rule of Four. There was another evening bonfire and more sangha members came as the day warmed. The bonfire was lively and chatty. The resident bodhisattva, in the body of a 10 year old girl, offered to put Aidan and Harry to sleep while mom enjoyed adult company. She has a magical touch with children. They were sleeping within 10 minutes. By midnight Aidan was awake and freaked out, and I spent another 30 minutes with a cranky, tired and pissed off almost three year old, who refused to sleep in his cozy nest between Harry and I. Sleep came to us all. I awoke in the morning to find Aidan missing. Frantically I searched the tent, figuring he wiggled himself under the cot. He was not there. A combination of being awoken in shock and the terror that quickly ensued was paralizing. I jumped outside and scanned the area. No Aidan. Aidan, is a wanderer by nature. He is one of those kids who could get lost for two days in the woods and would need a search team of hounds and helicopters. The horizontal zipper of the tent was open about 6 inches - obviously enough space for a vivacious, very quiet and wandering spirit to wriggle out of. So, I ran toward the cook shelter, where we spend a majority of our time. There he was in someones arms. He was playing merrily on his own and being watched by other campers - who began to wonder where the parents were. Catastrophe averted. Distaster was clearly eminent.

Take a deep breath mom.

Camping with an almost three year old offers a new edge to camping...


hotboy said...

Losing kids... nothing like it to get the old heart pumping!

Mary P. said...

Oh my oh my oh my... Are you actually having fun? It sounds like my idea of a nightmare. And, no camping wuss me: the first time I went camping as a mother, my baby was 4 weeks old! But at least she wouldn't be doing any wandering!

MC Etcher said...

Glad your little one is all right! Sounds like a fun trip.

MC Etcher said...


My dreams shall henceforth be sweet and untroubled by blueness and its lines.