The changing of the seasons couldn’t be helped.
We went camping this past weekend. We went to the same campground, the same campsite, that we’ve been going to every year for the past six, with the same people (plus a couple new ones). Our friend S mentioned, “Wouldn’t it have been great if we’d taken a group photo every year?”
And now I feel bereft of photos that have never existed, never will exist. We have no pictures of four boys arranged around a wooden sign, from largest to smallest, poking bunny ears behind heads one year, elbowing each other with obvious intensity another year, showing a facade of forced boredom in recent years. We have no picture of a pantless B in the midst of his potty-training summer, or L triumphant after mastering enough of a swimming stroke that we trusted him in the pool, or T’s feet, which are freed the moment we arrive until the moment we leave. We don’t get to watch these faces change from round and pouty to lean and considerate. Except in our memories, which are fickle.
We have gotten pretty good at this yearly camping gig. It used to be we relied on S for everything, from food to garbage bags to paper towels to quarters for the shower. Now we hardly have to mooch at all. There are so many things we, as a family, aren’t great at (remembering socks and underwear on long trips, eating politely in restaurants, maintaining that no-more-new-books policy) that it’s especially lovely to come across something we shine at.
At one point I remarked at how different it is now. We’re no longer trading jobs and saying things like, “I’ll take the pool group, you take the brook group, we’ll campfire afterward because everyone will be hungry.” Now we wonder out loud, “Hey, where are the kids?” and then when no one knows we shrug and go back to our books. No, not that bad. I have the sunburn to prove I sat by the pool and kept a very careful half eye on my youngest boys. In between pages of my book, of course.
One of our nights I spent in a camping hammock. And it was intensely beautiful, a voracious kind of peace, until it rained. Even that was nice. I crawled into a tent full of three sleeping boys and one sneezing boy. We snuggled. We listened to the staccato beat of raindrops on canvas. We woke to sunshine.