Even as the rain drizzled down on us Sunday afternoon, I knew it was the best weekend of the year so far.
I’ve been camping for the better part of my life and if there’s one thing I look forward to, its the first camping weekend of the year, more often than not it’s during the May long weekend.
The first time out during camping season is like a lot of other firsts when spring brings a renewal. It’s the first round of golf, first baseball game, first motorcycle ride, first boat ride, first time in the garden, whatever your passion, those spring-time firsts always bring back that great joy of what attracts you to your favorite hobby to begin with.
We soaked up the sun for most of Friday and watched how families slowly began to pull into the campground. Funny thing is, as you Yogi Berra probably said, you can learn a lot from watching.
Watching a husband-wife combination team up to back one of those long trailers into a site can pretty much determine how their entire weekend will go.
Nice, smooth operation probably means a nice quiet weekend.
A stop-start operation usually means there’s some underlying tension that might boil over.
Some door slamming, engine revving and arms thrust in the air usually spells a rough few days ahead.
No sooner do all the trailers come to a rest then all the kids start buzzing around like bees on bicycles.
Dogs aren’t far behind as they stretch their leashes to the limit picking up new scents and scenery.
For many, like myself, it’s the first weekend outing of the year.
Sure there are unforgettable days on the ski hill, hiking the backcountry, sledding or even an early-season round of golf.
But camping takes you out of your element for a few days. You step outside the hustle and bustle of punching the clock and think about things in a much simpler and immediate sense.
Do I have to chop wood for the fire?
How comfortable is my bed?
When do we want to eat?
What do I feel like reading?
How often to you hear people extolling the value of making each moment last. Camping has a way of dialing down our internal clocks.
I’m one of those people who over-prepares for camping, I bring it all in a trailer barely the size of my backyard shed.
But when the sun hits the beach and the lawn chair has that perfect view of the lake and I have a cold drink in hand, there’s a moment when you just exhale and appreciate as time stands still.
That’s the tough part of living where we live. Relatives and friends have visited from all across Canada and they all are amazed at our corner of the world.
But we often get so caught up in work schedules, school schedules, and life’s schedules, that it’s hard to see through the haze and stop and stare for a minute.
Therein lies the magic of camping. Finding a corner of the Kootenays and sitting in the chair and exhaling – nothing else scheduled but simply soaking up that moment.
Glenmerry School brought in its “Quiet Moment,” for the students. Maybe camping is like an adult quiet time, Kootenay style.
It may only last a few minutes before the dog barks or the kids come running but it’s worth the packing, the preparing and the parking.
We watched that couple finally back their trailer into place, rather smoothly too so all signs pointed to a good weekend.
Before unhooking, before getting the jacks and cranking out the awning, the man grabbed a lawn chair, a cold beverage and sat and looked at the view and I could only imagine how big a sigh he was letting out.
There were sounds of sighs echoing throughout the campground as people set up camp.
By Saturday we were in full camping mode with some friends, sun, boating, dogs and music. The rain came late Saturday and by then we had our fill of the fire and the fun.
And even though Sunday brought a steady drizzle, we still had the shelter for some hot coffee and warm company.
Since work came Monday for me, it wasn’t too hard to pull up stakes in the drizzle and head home.
We left with enough camping in our bodies to fully appreciate the brief escape offered less than an hour from home.
So despite the rain nothing was going to cast a cloud over the weekend. It was the best one so far. It was the first of many firsts that spring always brings.
Guy Bertrand is the managing editor of the Trail Daily Times.