We spent four wonderful days camping, away from the phone and from where we traveled to fun places for whitewater rafting, kayaking, eating out, and (believe it or not) shopping. We had every luxury you can imagine: a soft bed (thanks to blow-up mattresses, foam pads, sub-zero sleeping bags, and down pillows), warmth (see previous sentence), hot showers, a nearby restaurant, access to a swimming pool and hot tub, free wi-fi (seriously, now...), and plumbing. Some of these comforts were a short hike away, but still, this was not my father’s idea of camping!
Why reminisce about that trip? Because the weather is cooling down, leaves are turning, a north wind has blown in, I wore a jacket to work today, frost has appeared on windshields several mornings this past week, the flowers are starting to fade, the cat wants in at night, the sun is getting low in the sky, it’s dark when the alarm goes off in the morning, it’s getting dark as I clean the kitchen after supper, I ordered soup for lunch the other day, I saw my breath while walking from the parking lot to my building yesterday, and my white shoes are packed up.
I revisit this scene because the signs of summer -- and vacation -- are disappearing. I want to remember the blessing our vacation was for those few days. I want to look at this picture and remember sweeping dirt off the tarp so that we wouldn’t track into the tent. I want to remember hoisting the kayaks onto the back of the truck and taking off for Bowman Lake. I want to remember sitting at the table sipping French-pressed coffee in the early morning hours. I want to remember laying on the hammock in the gazebo, and hanging wet bathing suits on chairs, and roasting marshmallows, and poking at the fire, and the stray dog we fed and named “ko-uh” for KOA.
When the snow starts to fly, I want to remember jogging along the winding road to the highway and back, wondering if I would meet a bear; and slapping at flies as we ate in the outdoor restaurant; and watching the kids play volleyball in the pool; and snuggling into a warm bed with a hoodie pulled up over my ears, and those fabulous ribs at The Back Room in Columbia Falls.
It’s just a matter of time when it will be dark as I leave for work and dark as I walk back to my car. Ice will be underfoot, vacation will be long forgotten and we’ll be wondering what to get one another for Christmas. The campground where we lived those four days will be silent and white, home only to a few hardy creatures who amble through.
But for now, it’s a fresh memory to be relived and savored. Especially since my trunk is filled with bedding that smells like campfire smoke. Vacation’s not officially over until I’ve been to the laundromat. And that could be spring...