Two weeks ago, we packed up and headed out of Dodge to camp at Pog Lake in Algonquin Provincial Park (approximately 3 1/2 hours north of us). All of us were excited. The children were excited to swim. Mom was excited to get away from work on the farm. And dad was excited to try out his new camping equipment.
We arrived in good form, a bit later than I wanted, but before the sun went down. Soon we were settled and enjoying a roaring campfire.
The first couple days were pleasant. It wasn't too cold or too hot. The kids could swim in the lake and we rented a canoe for Benedict's 8th birthday.
The evening of the third day we cooked orange cakes on the fire and celebrated our son. We all went to bed, full in the belly, exhausted from the fun and ready to enjoy whatever the morrow would bring.
That night, things changed - the weather that is. And we were not entirely prepared.
It began with rain. Cold, north rain pattering on our tent till wee hours in the night.
Then, mercifully, the inclement weather ceased. Only then to be replaced by cold. I stepped outside the tent early in the morning to meet with nature and a deep chill seeped into my bones. My breath literally hung in front of my face like a spiders web holds the dew on a chill morning.
Shivering, I crawled beneath the sleeping bag and looked around in the waning darkness at my family. We were not prepared for sub-zero temperatures. It would be an interesting day ...
Eventually, the tribe awoke and we crawled shivering out of our tent. Our limbs were stiff and I began to immediately make a fire.
It took all morning to get the chill out of our bones. Finally, around 1300hrs, the sun broke free and we picked a small spot of sunshine and soaked in the precious rays.
The next day was similar. And the day following. The days were long, cold and we to keep finding things to do to keep warm.
At one point, despite a bitter wind blowing, the children had had enough of the campsite. We went to the lake and they braved the cold for the sake of a few moments of exhilaration.
And then they were chilled for a couple hours after!
When we arrived home, we bundled up in warm clothing, turned on every heater and cuddled into couches and beds. Home sweet home!
It wasn't till I took time to reflect on our small trip that I realized what a gift the cold weather was.
In this camping trip we all suffered together. Albeit the suffering wasn't life threatening in any way, but we were put out of our comfortable home and beds and had to work together to stay warm, keep moving, share chairs in pockets of sunshine, and learn to have fun together.
On our last night we had the option to watch some movies at the outdoor theatre. Because of the cold, we chose to stay back and play games together. Under the light of a Coleman lantern we played cards, sipped hot chocolate, bundled ourselves in blankets and laughed telling stories with each other.
Granted, we could've had fun too if it was beautifully hot every day, but the element of cold weather brought us together in a way the warm weather wouldn't have.
A family that camps together - stays together.