Every year in May we pack up our gear to celebrate the beginning of camping season. This year we made the 2 hour trip to a beautiful beach in Seward, Alaska. The sun was warm and shining brightly, the mountains were spectacular, and the beach was full of treasure. My kids spent every waking moment on the beach, with my eldest son spending hours creating his kind of art: rock cairns on the beach. Time paused for us this weekend, giving us time to relax and reconnect before launching into the kids’ final week of school.
While Jerry Wilbur writes about canoe camping, I think his sentiment can be applied to all camping for me…
“I am in love with camping, wilderness canoe-paddling camping. I don’t use the word love here in some symbolic or colloquial way. I mean I am in love with it, the kind of love that twangs the guitar strings of your heart, if you’ll excuse the expression.
I’m in love with the taste of morning air and the soft blowing wind, even in November, when I can take a good hold of myself and laugh. I’m in love with the smells of rivers and lakes held together by a lacework of pine trees. I’m in love with the high emotional balance this gives me. I’m in love with the possibilities so peculiar to getting somewhere in a canoe, how around every corner there is something curious and interesting, something I’ve never seen before or felt or done or known about. Though I’m no longer as optimistic as I once was, I know that with each paddle stroke I will never be quite the same again.
All the jukebox songs I’ve ever heard cannot match the sound of a smooth-running zipper opening my tent to the blessings of a new day. I’m in love with never having to feel poor on canoe-paddling camping trips, and how you can make promises to yourself and have all the time in the world to keep them, and how you can stay up all night if you want to, and make mistakes if you must. I love being a stranger in temporary exile. I love the romantic notion of it, of living a shining, perishable dream, of reducing the miraculous to a coffee pot bubbling alive on a campfire. I love being reminded of who I am, and why, and the sense of wonder at it. Every minute of it.
And, though I can’t quite put my finger on it, I love it because when I’m camping, wilderness canoe-paddling camping, I’m twenty again and it’s always springtime.”
-Jerry Wilbur, Of Woodsmoke and Quiet Places
As the weekend came to a close all three of my children declared that they love camping in Alaska. We’re already planning more camping adventures, from more car camping adventures in Denali to a few backpacking excursions in Chugach State Park (Anchorage’s “backyard”). Each trip strengthens the fabric of our family, providing family lore and a deeper connection to each other. May everyone who reads this enjoy a wonderful summer full of their own family adventures and camping trips!