Caymanians and Canadians enjoy many things in common and one of those things is a love of camping. In Cayman, that happens at Easter, while camping in the cold north wisely happens in the summer months.
And so it was that many summers ago my husband and I took our six kids camping in the Rocky Mountains. Kananaskis in the Alberta Rockies is a piece of paradise and it was wonderful to wake up and gaze at the mountains through the mist of our frozen summer breath.
Our tent was, to put it mildly, stuffed. Eight of us shared about 10 square feet of space with sleeping bags, clothing and many, many shoes. Just roll over in the night and there would be a foot in your face or a little head by your feet. Kids don’t seem to mind this. Parents, on the other hand, do.
My sister, who is a city dweller, is much older than I am. I do not mention this to irritate her, but to suggest that perhaps wisdom doth in fact accompany age. You see, my sister and her husband happened to be camping at the same campground we were, only in a different section. They were “camping” with a group of friends who had trailers. Trailers are nice. They are little homes that you wheel out into the wilderness and then wheel back when you are done enjoying the scenery. We should have tried trailers, but instead, we had a tent full of feet, and many, many shoes.
One day, my sister invited us over for “happy hour.” The prospect of one happy hour in a day of camping with six kids moved my husband and me to tears. Promptly at 3 o’clock we showed up at the circle of trailers on the far side of the campground. In the middle of the site were several picnic tables that had been drawn together and upon which were seated my sister, her husband and friends — happy — just as they promised, enjoying snacks and liquid refreshments. There was paradise in the valley after all.
My husband and I sat down to cocktails and lovely little snacks that each camper had kindly contributed. The kids busied themselves with chips, pop and toasted marshmallows. I was enjoying the fine fare and friendly conversation so much that it was some time before I noticed our 4-year-old twins, cheeks full, crawling around the picnic table.
“What are you chewing?” I casually asked.
“Gum!” came the enthusiastic response. “There’s a whole bunch under this table! Want some?”
Paradise, it seems, has its stickier side. Perhaps paradise is just wherever you are, so long as you settle in with enthusiasm and with vision unclouded by expectations. Trust, therefore, the child to find it.
Faye Lippitt is the author of “16 Chickens on a Trampoline” and the children’s book, “The Great Caribbean Chicken Caper.”