A World Away
Every other year or more of my married life, we have gone on camping trips. Maybe it’s because I came into our relationship with some spectacular trips under my belt, including one epic one to Italy, when we almost burned down our tent but also saw the wonders of Michelangelo at St. Peter’s in Rome and with his David in Florence.
And the lemon trees in Sorrento…
So, soon after our first one was born, we took a weekend camping trip and we have never looked back. We discovered our most favourite place to camp on one of those first trips. A little over eight hours north of here, there lies the perfect beach and protected bay. We enjoy the markers along the way that tells us where we are. As we cross into Michigan, the land becomes more rolling and forested. Once passed Cadillac, the pines and birches start to make an appearance. The land becomes more wild and less inhabited. Crossing the Mackinac Bridge into the Upper Peninsula of Michigan is always awe inspiring. The bridge stands as a sculptural testament to human ingenuity and the water it spans goes as far as the eye can see, changing colors as fast as the changing weather. And then, it is only an hour to the Canadian border.
Crossing that boundary takes us off the grid these days. We arrive at the Provincial Park, find our campsite and before we set up camp, we walk out to the beach and stick our feet into ice cold Lake Superior. This is our home for the next few days.
Up here, the weather can change from one minute to the next. So after the tent is up, the tarp goes over it. We’ve learned the hard way that there are precautions to take or our tent will become a floating island. We have firewood, food and shelter. Now we can live these days to the rhythm of the earth. We get up with the sun and the cawing of the crows. We have no clocks to tell us when to do what and no devices to answer to. Morning coffee has never tasted so good. With the sound of waves and the wind rustling the leaves, time becomes the present and nothing more. Carrying our chairs, we walk the coffee and the dog to the sand beach and sit, by ourselves, soaking in the morning mist on the lake, and feeling those first rays of warmth from the sun. As I sit and sip and watch, the cares that life heaps onto us melt away. I have become a stone, smoothed by the sand and waves, washed clean of its rugged sides, bleached by the sun.
One day follows another with only the earth and my body on it to tell me what to do. Sometimes, everything sits still and the lake is as smooth as ice. The insects make an incessant racket. Then, a breeze blows and the sound of the waves echoes the beat of my heart and the forest becomes alive as trees sway and creak. I need this encounter with nature. It brings me back down to the essentials and reminds me that human life is just one of the life forces on this earth. And as the day ends, the light carries us into dusk. Jim builds a fire. Its flames throw light into the darkness and we are mesmerized by the ever changing pattern as a chill falls on our backs.
Our stay this time ends abruptly with nature continuing to have the upper hand. As a hard and chilly rain falls, we tear down our camp in our dirtiest clothes. Everything gets packed into the car, wet and dripping. We laugh as we get soaked to the bone and covered with dirt. A steaming hot shower later, and clean, dry clothes and we are good to get on the road back to our everyday life, cleansed, refreshed and free.