It’s the first few moments of morning. Those moments where your eyes are still closed, your body is perfectly still and you are just becoming aware of your surroundings.
Simultaneously I experience three senses at once. Touch, sound and smell.
That normally isn’t so when I wake up in the morning, but it is when I’m here.
I feel the breeze on my skin coming through the open window right next to my bed. I always sleep with the window open here.
In the same moment I hear the waves. God do I love waking up to the waves literally outside my window.
And then there’s the smell. The salt air that fills your senses when you wake up only a hundred yards from the beach.
My eyes aren’t even open. My body hasn’t even moved an inch. I’m in that state of mind between awake and asleep. But I know exactly where I am.
I am camping.
As I roll over (quietly so Ginger won’t hear me) I’m aware of my kiddos sleeping in the bunk beds at the back of the trailer.
The four of us have been doing this for so long together ~ for seventeen years to be exact ~ and for all the things that we do … the travel and the sports games and the music concerts and the board games and card games … it’s been this that has in so many ways defined who we are as a family.
So here I am. Waking up once again in our trailer like so many mornings. I’m waking up and I’m trying to identify this feeling. It’s so easy to say it’s happiness. And I am. Happy that is. But it’s something more. We over use that word, happy. So I close my eyes again, breathe in that air, exhale slowly, and it’s then I realize without a doubt what the feeling is. It’s contentment.
I’m never more content then when I am camping.
It doesn’t matter where we are – at our beloved Rissers Beach, or Keji. Fundy or The Islands. Thomas Radall or Murray Beach.
It’s where we take hundreds of walks on the beach together, hike and bike endless trails, laugh over campfires, egg each other on over washer toss tournaments and bocci ball, play intense games of crib and queens. It’s where the smell of campfires become the most beloved smell in the world and where dusk can’t come quick enough for all of us to gather around one every night.
It’s where my kids learned to ride their bikes and then took off on afternoon adventures to lakes and brooks and playgrounds, coming back with their friends having had contests of who could get the muddiest on the trails.
It’s where parents, grandparents, children and grandchildren all enjoy each other’s company equally. It’s where the four of us sit in our camp chairs, put our feet up and are completely silent … each reading our own books … where not a word is spoken sometimes but my heart swells because we are all engrossed in our own novels – but outside and together.
It’s where the best games of football and kite flying have happened. Where catching a wave on the boogie boards was the most important thing for a few summers and searching for sandollars becomes a sport.
It’s where we huddle, in our camper in the rain – a time that is my favourite – listening to that incomparable sound on the trailer roof and playing Skip Bo and drinking hot chocolate together.
And as always, Craig is beside me.
The two of us have been doing this together for 25 years now.
We started in a two man tent. Packing all we needed in the trunk of his little red Acura or my Z24. Cooking over the open fire, waking up to dampness and sleeping on air mattresses that deflate. And good heavens don’t touch the side of that tent!!
We then graduated to a four man tent. (Oh the life!) And then Megan arrived and along came the used tent trailer, then the used hybrid (man we loved that one. That lasted us 10 years). And then another hybrid and finally this Ultralight which now has a real bed for Craig and I.
Sounds like fun doesn’t it? Haha. Tents and trailers with no fridges and beds that fold up. Well you know what? It was. It was amazing. Our family has been doing this since Megan was seven months old. We consciously chose to raise campers. And I know that sounds funny – but we did. Somewhere along the way we consciously chose to raise our children to be campers. (Or maybe actually it was unconsciously because it’s so much a part of who we are).
Either way it doesn’t matter. Because now it just is. For all of us. And here we are so many years later. Still camping. All together.
So yes – as I roll over – I always know exactly where I am and what I’m feeling. And I know I will open my eyes and see my husband lying beside me. And soon we will get up and he will make me percolated coffee in my favourite stainless steel camping mug. We will go outside and take Ginger for a quick walk and sit together in our favourite chairs listening to the waves and watching them roll in over the sand. And soon the kids will get up and we will have another morning and another afternoon and another evening here together in whatever campground we happen to be in at the time.
And the memories – while we are here in this campground – the memories, well they will somehow, so clearly and effortlessly, simply make themselves.