Its that time of year when everything changes overnight. It is the in-between where barren becomes lush, cold becomes warm, monochrome lands becomes techno-colour dreamscapes and the mosquitos haven’t quite figured out that their buffet has re-opened for the season. Spring has officially sprung.
One day, on a morning like any other, you wake up in another world. A world far different from the one you fell asleep in, a world where everything is suddenly green, where mother nature beckons you to come outside and play.
That’s right, its camping season and who are we to turn down the call of the wild? If you are like me, your idea of camping is a far cry from roughing it in the back woods, but whose to say one version of camping is better than another? Some of us like the thrill of living off the land with only the bare-necessities and a sense of adventure. I on the other hand, prefer modern plumbing and relatively reliable shelter, but that doesn’t mean my version of camping is any less enjoyable or rejuvenating than the next.
When I was younger we would go camping with my cousins. These weekends were filled with discovery as we explored new and familiar places, enjoyed long days at the beach, and learned valuable life lessons.
On one beach day in particular, we were at a small lake that was too shallow to really do much swimming and splashing around was only entertaining for so long. Luckily, one of the cousins noticed that we were not alone. We were sharing this lake with fish – everyone but me was excited about this. Don’t get me wrong, watching fish from a distance is great, but there is no way I want one coming anywhere near me when I’m swimming. My cousins made it their mission to try and catch one. We did not have any nets or finishing poles, but they were determined to use their bare hands like they do in the movies…how hard could it be?
While they were busy their fishing expedition, I was happily minding my own business on the other side of the pond. After awhile they started to complain that the fish were getting scared away by their futile attempts of jumping in after them and they could hardly find any fish at all anymore. It was around this time that I unfortunately discovered where every single fish in that pond had gone…they were surrounding me! Hundreds of silver mid-sized fish were gathered all around me in a circle, inching their way closer and closer (ok, it might have only been about 50 or so, but it might as well have been hundreds). It was on this day that I learned the valuable lesson that you should never wear shiny metallic bracelets in a lake, or any other body of water fish might inhabit. Who knew fish would be attracted to shiny things!?
During the evenings we would be taught how to hunt. Armed with stories of wild guinea pig like creatures and plastic grocery bags, we would descend on empty fields in a tactile formation. Crouching low to the ground, moving through the grass as stealthily as a group of kids could, gently rustling our bags. We were told (quite convincingly) that these illustrious beasts would happily hop into our bags if we were quiet enough and rustled the bags just right. Maybe we were a bit gullible, but if cats like boxes, why wouldn’t other creatures like bags? Of course, the closest any of us ever came was catching a cricket once.
Night time was obviously for bonfires. I mean, who are we kidding, camping just isn’t complete with out a bonfire! There is your traditional weenie roast, but that’s nothing compared to throwing hobos on the fire…Now, lets get one thing straight… I’m talking about those delicious combinations of bread and pizza toppings, or bread and pie filling that are cooked in cast iron vessels over an open flame. After all, camping is really all about the food right? Whether you are grilling over the open flame, baking potatoes or tossing foil wrapped packets onto the coals, can you actually leave satisfied if you haven’t had a smore? Unfortunately, it took me awhile to learn the art of making the perfect smore. Seriously, I would burn marshmallows like it was my job. Time after time I would set my marshmallow on fire no matter how hard I tried, and time after time my parents would come to the rescue and toast a new one for me to golden perfection. It was on these nights that I learned the importance of patience (and how to scope out the best coals for roasting marshmallows).