I just got back from camping with Madeline and Luke. More about that later.
For the record: we went to a campground, with appointed sites and a picnic table and a barbecue/fire pit thingy built in. Some of you who read this are purists and will say that isn’t camping; that a person is only truly camping if he or she has hiked five hours into the forest somewhere remote and cooks everything on an open fire. Poppycock. Who decided on that line? May as well make it that camping is really only when you hike into the middle of nowhere with no supplies whatsoever, kill, skin and eat your food right on the spot, build a shelter with your bare hands and then manage to live to tell the tale. I don’t buy it. My definition of camping: in a tent in the woods with a fire. That is all.
It’s interesting how being away for even one day can seem like a big deal. I phoned Dixie last night from Candle Lake and we talked and the kids talked to her as if we were away for a really long time in some distant location, instead of staying one night at a campground an hour away from home. When I drove onto our street after our return to Prince Albert, I noticed the For Sale sign that has been on a house on our street for several months, and I thought to myself, That house is still for sale? I guess it didn’t sell in the last 30 hours just like it hadn’t sold in the last 3 months. You go away for a day or two and you come back tired and dirty and the whole place seems different—like it went on a siesta while you were gone and it’s trying to shake itself out of its slumber because you’ve returned unexpectedly.
But I digress.
Today the kids and I drove to a different part of the campground to find a place to fish. I had left the car to walk out to the lake to see what was what. When I returned, there was a boy, maybe 10 or 11 years old, on a mountainbike. The confidence and sense of ownership it implied made it clear he belonged to a family of “seasonal campers” who stayed there for much of the summer. The following conversation ensued:
Boy: It’s wavey today.
Me: Yes it is.
Boy: So you like coming to Minuwakaw, too?
Me: Yes, it’s nice here. See you later.
I get in the car and drive off. I park the car a ways away near a gated road that might lead to the dam, which is what I’m looking for. When I get out of the car, the boy rides up on his bike.
Boy: This is the dam.
Me: Is it?
Boy: But you’re not allowed to fish on it.
Boy: No. There’s a sign, see?
Boy: You know what you do on a mountain bike? You put it in sixth gear and you drive straight down a hill—like, straight down—and then at the bottom you go on a jump and you do a wheelie with your front wheel and both wheels in the air.
Me: Oh yes?
Boy: Do you have a mountain bike?
Me: Yes I do.
Boy: First gear is the bestest gear for riding all-terrain. This isn’t my mountain bike, it’s my dad’s.
We arrive back at the car, where the kids have been waiting.
Me: Well, see you later then.
Boy: I’m usually on patrol.
Me: On patrol?
Boy: Yes, looking for people having sex in the campground.
Significant pause as I try to process his words.
Me: . . . You’re not allowed to have sex here?
Me: Oh. Well, good luck.