Enjoying The Great Outdoors

“It always rains on tents. Rainstorms will travel thousands of miles, against prevailing winds for the opportunity to rain on a tent.”  ― Dave Barry

I shop at Costco once in a while.  Since last winter, I’ve been watching the price on a camping tent.  Last week I gave in and decided that this summer I was going to finally give it a try, and drag my daughter along with me. I bought the tent, and the sleeping bags to go along with it. To my surprise the tent was half the price! It’s really nice – a five person tent with a sheltered seating area.

Camping is one of the things I’ve been wanting to do for a long time but found it kind of difficult to do as my other half at the time didn’t want to go.  This was my chance!  Now I’m not going to blame everything entirely on him.  I’m also not the “roughing it” outdoorsy type.  I’m afraid of spiders and such, snakes and whatever else is out there.  But I’m working on getting over it (and it’s really hard work too).

So on Friday evening I set up the tent in the backyard. It wasn’t as hard as I thought it would be. As I was setting it up, my daughter was creating a list of things that we would need for the night. We set up the inflatable bed, the camping chairs, took out the marshmallows, crackers and chocolate for Smores making, and the lantern for ghost stories. We were having fun! And we were outside! Ok, we weren’t TOTALLY roughing it.  We still went into the house to use the washroom, and grab food, but it was good for the first dry run.

Then it was time for bed. She fell asleep easily, and I lay there awake, listening to everything around me. I’d like to say it was the sounds of nature that I was listening to, but I don’t remember any animal or insect sounding similar to air conditioners, sirens, or  car engines. It was spectacular trying to make out the sounds of true nature over the urban noise pollution. The more I tried to sleep, the more I heard patterns between the three.  It was like a symphony!!

Until it began raining.

I knew it was supposed to rain overnight, and the thought of rescheduling our big camp out crossed my mind. I’m glad I went along with the plans anyway. Camping out in the rain was friggin awesome!!! Hearing the big, heavy raindrops hitting the tent, the trees and weeds was amazing. It cancelled out all the other noises. Even as the thunder rolled in for a bit, it was tranquilizing. I felt like I was in a cocoon, a womb even. I was warm and protected from the elements, like being in a nice, soft yet strong embrace. Being in the rain, I was able to softly drift off to sleep. I imagine that being in the wild, really camping, would be similar to this. Being surrounded by nature has a calming effect. We humans need to get back to our animal roots. We need to re-energize. I’m looking forward to the next camp-out. I’m going to make sure it rains overnight again!

The next morning was quite amusing, waking up, hanging out in the backyard enjoying my coffee, and watching my retired neighbours come out one by one to tend to their vegetable gardens and look over my way with puzzled looks on their faces.  They couldn’t understand what I was doing, and surely thought I had gone mad.  No one has done such at thing there before.  I don’t mind.  I intend to do it again a few times before the summer is through.

But ntil we can do this again, maybe for a quick weekday spur of the moment thing, we’ll just sleep with the window open.


Watching The Pavement Grow

Never say that you can’t do something, or that something seems impossible, or that something can’t be done, no matter how discouraging or harrowing it may be.” – Mike Norton

The most interesting thing has happened.  Over the last few weeks I have had the honour of watching something beautiful unfold before my eyes.  This something beautiful is my driveway.  Yes, that is correct; I watched my driveway – every day.  Actually, many times a day.  It’s spring here, and with spring comes new growth, and my driveway has been growing, huge bumps have been developing on its smooth, dark surface.

Last fall I had my driveway paved.  Shortly thereafter the winter came and it was covered in snow.  Since it was cold, I really didn’t go outside much, except to shovel the driveway and throw the occasional snow ball at my daughter.  This spring, I noticed a little bump on the driveway’s surface, and I dismissed it, thinking that it was always there and just didn’t notice it.  One afternoon my daughter and I were drawing with chalk on the driveway, and she incorporated the little bump into her picture.  After a few days, I noticed that the bump grew a bit bigger, and that her picture became a bit deformed.  A few days passed and I noticed another bump begin to form, and few days after that, another!  They began to look like humongous warts in the driveway. What the heck was going on here?

All of a sudden, these bumps began to crack.  They kind of looked like fresh crusty buns freshly out from the oven.  I tried pulling up part of the asphalt but it was too difficult. I looked more closely at the bumps and saw a flicker of green.  I thought to myself “No, it couldn’t be.”  The next day, my daughter and I went to look again, and she shrieked “Mommy, look!” I turned to look at where she was pointing to. I couldn’t believe my eyes! There was a sprouting!  Growth was shooting upward from beneath the pavement!  How amazing!

Of course, I can’t have something grow in the middle of my driveway, and so as I wait for the paving company to come and do repairs, my daughter and I watch with amazement as this little life form grows.  Each morning as we leave the house and each evening as we return, we check on its progress.  We are dumbfounded at its resilience and will for life.  Even though we know that it will need to be removed, we root for it, encourage this tiny little thing to grow in the most sub-optimal environment imaginable.

However, think about it for a while.  At some point, a little seedling blew onto the pile of dirt which was my driveway last summer.  Then a pile of rocks were laid on top, and about four inches of asphalt afterwards.  That little seedling had a will to live, it had a purpose.  Throughout the winter it rested, and then when the earth grew warm, it decided to start its journey.  The only way it knew how to was to move towards the light.  And so upward it grew, pushing its way through the dirt, the rocks and the asphalt.  It was difficult, but in order to survive it had to do that, and didn’t know any other way. It is a little hero.

So I thought to myself, why I wanted to give up so many times in my life.  At times I found it hard to go on and didn’t have the strength to move forward? Mostly I believe it was because of fear, and hard work.  In the end, I got through it.  And now I see that I was like that little seed.  The purpose of my darkness was to germinate, and then face my fear and go into the light so I could grow. There will always be asphalt, or dirt, or some other brown substance thrown on top of me.  But no matter how much falls, the only thing to do is plow ahead.  Keep moving towards the light.  Life won’t get any easier, it never does. I do believe that we are all given our load to carry, but one thing is for sure, that we get stronger and more resilient with time.

I often wonder how such a little thing can be so strong to warp the driveway and make cracks through it to grow into the light. I think back to elementary school to when I learned the lifecycle of a plant.  It isn’t only the sprout which is doing all the work.  It is rooted deep within the ground where it draws on the energy from the earth, water for nourishment.  That also is true for me, for all of us.  I find that when I go back to my roots, to the people I love and who love me, I get the support I need, I am able to gather the strength to make it through my difficult times.  But when I don’t do this, I am limited by what I allow myself to be limited by, my own mind. When I surround myself with love, then I become more self aware, and I find that anything is possible, if I really put my mind and energy towards it.  It’s about not becoming victim of life, but rather a person who lives life.