9.02.2006

it's a typical situation in these typical times

we left the city sometime after 2 on sunday and after a brief and chaotic stop at my brothers to get my neice reidun we were off to the great outdoors. our first night was spent assembling tents and tables, preparing food and lighting fires. weiners were eaten and smiles abound. as we settled in to our sleeping arrangements we looked up through the generous sunroof and saw thousands of stars light up the dark night sky. we were cold but content. i was of course nervous. was cohen warm enough, will he roll over in the night from the softness of the air mattress, will he catch a cold if i change him in the night, do i have a choice? but it was all very minor. things i knew wouldn't amount to much. we were here in amongst the woods and it smelled like perfection. he was smiling from ear to ear and seemed to sense my contentment. all was right in the world.

then came monday. we woke, brewed big mugs of delightfully strong coffee and ate thick slices of my homemade banana bread. we pondered over what we would do with out day while cohen and my neice continued to sleep all snug in their beds. eventually they awoke and came out to join us, reidun debating which cereal she wanted, grandma having brought the variety pack with all the brightly coloured boxes offering up their sugary delight. fruit loops was the choice of the day. as she was finishing a car pulled up. it was my brother elton and his wife jody and kyla. they wanted to come by and sat hello. glasses of lemonade were passed around and the conversation was idle. elton decided to take the girls into the woods behind our site for a walk. it was only moments after they left that we heard the screams. shreiks of pure terror. i jumped from my seat in panic as elton came bounding out of the trees with reidun in his arms, tears marking the trail where they had been. it turns out there was a hornets nest back there in them trees and they weren't looking for company. the final tally was hornets 6, reidun 0. ouch. having never been stung before we all decided it would be best for her to go back with mom and dad and cut the camping trip short. she didn't care. she was adamant, "i am never going outside again!".

left with just grandma and me and the tiger we headed off down the beach access trail. the sun was just right for walking. it mesmerized us as it's rays danced on the top of the lakes water, the sound of children splashing and laughing echoing off in the distance. we sat on a bench for awhile and cohen told us stories. i kept saying he needed to enunciate better if he wanted us to understand. he kept on grumbling and shrieking with excitement though. besides it isn't the story itself but the telling that has the most power...right?

we grilled marinated chicken and drank gin and tonics when we got back and then we lit a fire and played cards, cohen happily perched on grandma's lap. much to our surprise elton showed up again with reidun, this time her spirits much better. i guess her earlier resolve was weak, thank goodness, and so she came and sat next to us at the table and elton left. we were back where we started.

tuesday we woke to what sounded like rain on the roof of the tent. thankfully we had decided to put the fly on the night before opting for warmth over stars, but the rain was not expected and much of our stuff had been left out. this meant we had to act quick and so grandma and i got to work putting everything away and securing a tarp over the picnic table. this proved much more difficult then we first thought it might, with several alterations made to the plan before it all came to fruition. with the rain coming harder now we sat satisfied and proud under our shelter once again sipping coffee. i couldn't believe my luck, that cohen had chosen to stay sleeping once again. that right when i needed him to pull through and be content he never missed a beat. he was born to camp.

later the rain let up and we went for a walk along the river. cohen in the front carrier couldn't get enough of it all, his eyes wide open and concentrated o all of the green that surrounded him. this was what it was all about for me, why i wanted to take him camping in the first place. to see something other than cars and buses, stores and highrises. he loved what he saw, there was no question. at the end of the path we found ourselves once again on a beach and here we took some pictures, picked some flowers and built forts out of rocks and sticks, then we walked back.

i sensed it when we returned, the rain that is. i could smell it. i tried to think positive but i wasn't convinced and the girl scout in me was shouting in my head so i went an made sure all of the pegs on the tent were secured, that nothing was left out where it would get wet if it rained. after dinner we lit some glowsticks instead of a fire, afraid that smoke three night sin a row would affect cohen. reidun went to bed early, i think she sensed that it was going to rain and wanted to be warm when it came. we stayed up and played cards cohen tucked like a little kangaroo into grandma's jacket. it was just after eleven when it started, slowly at first. manageable but worrisome, steady but controlled. we decided to call it a night and started to pack everything up when it all changed.

to say that it rained would be like saying that the constuction in the front or our building is irritating, like saying that george bush is less than perfect in his job. it was so much more than rain. it was revenge, it was armageddon, it was noisy and destructive and all pervasive and wet, very very very wet. i love the rain. i grew up on the westcoast and the dampness of it is in my blood but this was not rain. normally i wouldn't mind much, the sound of rain on the top of a tent can be satisfying, even a little meditative. this would have been the case if: a. i had thought to bring a rain jacket, or any sort of long sleeve shirt for that matter and b. my tent was in anyway waterproof. by 1am the seems were leaking into the tent, drip drip dripping on reidun's blanket covered leg. i was up and out in my tshirt and sandals trying to fasten a 3' x 3' tarp onto the roof of my 7' x 13' tent (you do the math). i had nothing to fasten it and the tarp was old, a few holes littering it's surface. it was better than nothing. i jimmied it to the exsisting tarp strings and crossed my fingers. once i was back in the tent i had to strip down to almost nothing and crawl into the damp blankets. we all huddled into the middle of the tent and i stared at the ceiling waiting for the it to fail, for the flood to arrive. i couldnt blink for fear i would sleep and would wake in a pool, much to late to rescue everyone from a certain soaking.

so where was cohen during all of this? smiling at the glowstick hanging from the roof of the tent and kicking his legs to the beat of the rain. he was wearing two sleepers and a fleece over suit, two hats and socks for gloves. he was warm and content and oblivious to the chaos. i was so relieved, determined to prove it wasn't crazy to bring a baby camping (although at this point i am not sure i was convinced). once i was settled back into the blankets he leaned into my chest and fell asleep. he stayed there until morning.

once the sun finally rose and light filled the tent, the rain still coming down outside, i stepped off the mattress into a lake in the bottom of our tent. nearly to my ankle the water explained that the tent had faied from the bottom as well as the top. all of the clothes and shoes and blankets that had touched it were soaked. i had no sleep, things were not looking good.

as it turns out the sun did come out sometime around 9 and it stayed long enough to pack up the tent, the tarps, the kids, the food and our memories and get out before it started to pour again. the crazy thing is that for all the stress and turmoil the weather caused us, in the end it made us feel full with some form of contentment. a satisfaction of having gone to war together and pulled through together to come out the other end a little wetter, a little colder but richer for the experience and really how crazy is that?

for all of the pictures go here.

4 comments:

Becky said...

Camping in the NW can be so unpredictable even in summer time. Looking back despite the rain,you will have fond memories of Cohen's first camping adventure. Cohen looks so sweet all buddled up in the tent.

m said...

Well, it makes a great story and you got some fantastic pictures out of it.

t said...

it does make an ok story, much better than we went camping and it was sunny and everything was perfect and then we came home. maybe he will grow up to be an outdoorsman (what is that exactly?) and i will recall how this trip was what started his life long love of the outdoors?

a-one said...

out‧doors‧man  /ˌaʊtˈdɔrzmən, -ˈdoʊr-/ Pronunciation Key - Show Spelled Pronunciation[out-dawrz-muhn, -dohr-] Pronunciation Key - Show IPA Pronunciation

–noun, plural -men. 1. a person devoted to outdoor sports and recreational activities, as hiking, hunting, fishing, or camping.
2. a person who spends much time in the outdoors.

I think he may be an outdoorsman. A