Everyone goes on about the great outdoors, the wilderness, how beautiful and how beneficial it is for your body, mind and soul. Outdoors is good on a temperate day when the elements are tolerable. I like nature as much as the next person but I'm not a fan of certain things that comes with it in summer namely heat, sweat, dirt, sunburns, mosquitoes, black flies, red ants, spiders, ticks, and wasps. They all love me madly! This planet definitely needs more bats.
Actually what turned me off nature (apart from my mother who only went out when she needed to buy food at the local supermarket) were "wild" camping weekends with my young family. I purchased a modest lakefront property about two hours away from our home with the intention, eventually, of building a cottage, (you know...a small building with walls, a toilet, floors, and maybe a kitchen with a sink). This never materialized but the land was chainsaw paradise for my then husband. Camping with no amenities was a living hell for me.
I learned that I am a princess. I do not like to suffer. Period. However in the spirit of positivity, I'll begin with what I did enjoy at the lake.
The good bits:
- I loved fishing in a canoe (the bugs never seemed to like it much in the middle of the lake). Alone with my daydreams, I caught little sunfish that we somehow managed to fillet and eat. Delicious.
- I liked pedal boating, not sophisticated but stable. I like stable.
- Once huge ice balls covered the forest floor during a hail storm, a visual feast I won't ever forget.
Every week I'd prepare food for the weekend, fill a hefty drum of water, pack all required camping stuff including, naturally, bug spray. The twisty, winding road to get to the property gave me motion-sickness. Gravol was a lifesaver but left me groggy for the rest of the day. Not a good headspace for zeal.
I spent most of the weekend dirty (I hate being dirty), reheating food on a coleman stove or trying to cook something decent from scratch. Like in the dark ages, I heated water after meals to wash the dirty dishes. On rainy days, we huddled in our tent and played games for an hour or so with visibly warping cards. Eventually snoozing became an attractive option.
In May, we wore hats with netting, gloves, elastics at the sleeves and ankles to avoid being picked to the bone by black flies. Furniture made out of tree trunks took a toll on my butt as I stoked the camp fire in a perpetual loop with wood that came from the happy chainsaw enthusiast. In all fairness, the marshmallows were excellent.
The creation and status of our "Johnny on the Spot" left something to be desired. I refused to pee in the middle of the night. God knows what could have snapped at my "tushe". After a bear tried to break into my uncle's cottage we suddenly became aware that our tent was a flimsy, vulnerable affair. Despite our best preventive efforts, our dog caught fleas on a regular basis and I soon learned that these little pests also like human shins. The lake was clear but without a wharf, we had to inch our way across some rather jagged rocks and jump into deep, freezing (yoweeee!!!) water. Actually that kind of helped reduce my Gravol grogginess.
Returning home Sunday afternoon meant repacking filthy, smelly, damp stuff, which had to be aired out to dry after we got back (unless it rained outside). I unpacked leftover food, cleaned the cooler, washed everyone's clothes. Mid-week it was time again to start preparing for the next fun camping weekend. By summer's end, all I wanted to do was curl up and hide in a corner. But it wasn't quite over. Did you know that moose moan in the fall?
I might like roughing it a bit more if it weren't for bugs. With climate change, conditions are deteriorating. The weather is either too hot and dry or morbidly wet. Ticks are rampant and our formerly irritating but generally harmless mosquitoes now spread disease. What's next? Venomous snakes and alligators from the United States? No no!!! Black flies are bad enough!!!
I'll stick with the paradise that's outside on my deck. No dirty feet, a cool beverage, a gas barbecue and a view of the river. The bathtub awaits if I get too hot. As the sun sets, hungry mosquitoes still come out but I enter our abode and do a happy dance. No welts, no itchy bites! I think this is known as progress.