Tuesday, September 08, 2009
One of the things I loved most about my childhood was the sense of rhythm and almost of ritual, the notion that things would come around every year that could be counted on. I think predictability is one of our most basic human needs. Some people of course seem to need it so much more than others, and perhaps children more than adults. Having touchstones throughout the year brings a sense of comfort and a respect for the turning of the seasons of life.
One of the things I have most grown to anticipate this time of year is our annual camping trip at Waldo Lake. I know I've probably posted similar photos every year, of us doing similar things - floating in boats, swimming in crystalline waters, kids catching frogs, hiking through woods, the spectacular beauty that is Waldo. Every year the kids are changed, but the landscape is not. The frogs are different of course, but catching them is not. Perhaps the water molecules from last year's lake have gone up into clouds and traveled around the globe and rained in Botswana and the water molecules in the lake this year were a fog bank around Bristol at this time last year, but yet the lake looks the same.
This year we were blessed with a stretch of unbroken lovely fall days. The frogs were plentiful, from the tiny "fingernail frogs", just the size of my pinky nail, to these glorious golden bumpy frogs with sparkling eyes, to camouflaged tree frogs that you have to be eagle-eyed to spot. The water was warm enough for kids to swim and float in, and for me in my wet suit to hang out in (the perks of being a triathlete mom is having the wetsuit that lets me hang out in cold lakes with my kids all afternoon).
The kids brought bikes with them and took off en masse for a group bike ride led by mountainbiking mom extraordinaire, Maria. They suddenly looked 5 years more grown up setting off like that.
Of course, time does have a way of marching on and some things change. For years, we brought our faithful and wonderful camping dog Sabre on our Waldo lake excursions. In his final year, I even brought my Burley trailer and wheeled him on the trails around the lake when he was too feeble to walk. Then he was gone, and I spent a few moments last year crying when I saw people with dogs that looked similar to Sabre.
This year of course we have Callie, and its her inaugural year camping. As a small dog, she has the added perk of riding in the kayak (something Sabre surely would not have done, as fearful of water as he was depite his Labrador heritage). We say she's the "bow wow of the bow" and she enjoyed being ferried over to an island where she could be a wild leash-free dog for awhile without our worrying that she would chase a squirrel into the wilderness and never be heard from again.
One of the other things I value about this camping trip, besides the sense of the earth coming 'round again and the changing of the seasons and spending time with friends who we haven't seen enough of over the summer is that the kids get plenty of time to just be kids. Without computers and games and electronic distractions of any kind, they can spend hours in a happy mob keeping a balloon in the air, cheering each other on. Even my big 13 year old (who often vaccilated between the adult conversation by the campfire and the games of the children) was caught up in the excitement of chasing a balloon through the forest.
In the end, the trip is really about everything important in life: family, friends, nature, beauty, fun, seasons, rituals, and appreciating the great gifts we are given here on earth. I am grateful for yet another ride around the sun, another season at Waldo.