There is a cliche about being made to write an essay at the beginning of every school year detailing what one did during the preceding summer. No one is making me but this is my short essay. The summer has been full of wonderful fun and love and I don't want ever to forget the perfection of kids playing on the rope swings in the old trees, or singing on the river bank, or playing in the woodpile, or meeting a horse for the first time, or ...
Oh what have we done this summertime? Well, all kinds of wonderful summer stuff but one of the real highlights was our family camping trip. When I was a child my dad would pack up the tent and all our gear, load the jeep and take us camping. Sometimes it was camping where I was too frightened to sleep (for fear of bears!! And no there was no real threat but I was/am afraid of the dark at home in my bed, so on a mountain top it seemed pretty imminent) but more happily, sometimes we camped on the "river bottom" at my grandparents ranch along the Belly River. This summer's family camping trip was to that very same ranch - now my uncle's - along that very same river. It is the best kind of camping, or at least my favourite kind. Even the absence of facilities can't dampen my enthusiasm - in fact, although it is indubitably inconvenient to pee in the woods, it seems a lot more like real camping than being in a campground with showers and toilets and 26 foot trailers parked side by side. At the ranch we get to bounce along a rough track from "up top" down the steep hillside to a spot in the valley that has been fenced off from the cattle with barb-wire where we choose the perfect lumpy spot to pitch our tents under the ancient trees. We cook our food over a campfire and eat it as we sit on chopped logs with our plates in our laps. There are horses to ride, a river to play in, and no one around but ourselves and the cows. We fall asleep to the sound of the river flowing and waken to birds calling. It is a bit of messy, happy heaven.
For me a large part of the joy is the pull I feel to that land. For many people summer means time at the lake or the ocean but for me summer means time at the ranch with family - cousins and aunts and uncles, brothers and sisters and moms and dads. It is where we went and what we did every year. In the years since I married and had my own family we have occasionally camped at the ranch but more often our family summers have been spent other places. It felt so perfect, so complete to share some time this summer with those I love most in a place that somehow simply defines me. Where my roots are, where I have come from.
Beyond the camping there and at the lake, our summer has been full and fun. A wedding, gardening, sewing, reading, playing, eating - it has been as perfect as a summer can be. I hate to see it come to an end but experience has taught me that the next season, be it in life or in the year, will have joys specific to itself.
Eden has posted some truly beautiful pictures of our family camping on her blog - I don't even bring my camera when she is around but I sure have fun with my phone's camera. Speaking of which, I have fallen in love with the fun to be had on Instagram. You can see more of my summer there should you want to. Nothing fancy but for me it has been pretty awesome.
You can see me HERE or use the Instagram button at the bottom of the sidebar on the right.