Toes in the sand. Knees in the dirt. Hands in the ice cold river. The sound of gravel crunching under each and every step. We just completed our first journey into the wilderness this year with Sav at an age where she could feel and begin to understand the joy behind lifting a tiny pebble and lofting it into the river, creating a splash that sends icy droplets of water into the air and onto each of her rosy red cheeks.
I've always loved to camp. To spend days and nights with Mother Nature. There has always been something about leaving it all behind and spending a few days living the "simple life". Some may argue that it is a strange proposition to leave behind the conveniences of home in order to live like you are homeless - which, point taken, however, there is just something about not having to worry about the chaos that comes along with many of these so-called conveniences that to me makes camping a thrill. I grew up with camping in my blood. Packing coolers and small fridges full of campfire friendly food, and helping my Dad back up trailers and line up hitches since I was almost too small to see him in the rear view mirror.
We camped in the Summer spending lazy days on beaches and napping on docks. We laid out star-gazing at night on asphalt warm from the days sun. We camped in the Fall, bundled up in sweaters and jackets and scarves ... ate Thanksgiving dinner on picnic tables lined up three or four long - with little bouquets of wildflowers placed carefully by my Grandma's hands on each. We camped in the winter ... as Girl Guides - hiking in through drifts of snow with frozen toes and pink noses. Built huge fires, drank watery hot chocolate and stayed up all night chatting in cozy cabins. We pitched tents in the Spring, built sailboats out of sticks and leaves ... sending them racing down the river while we giggled and made bracelets out of dandelions and clovers.
Getting out there again for the first time with our little daughter by our sides can only be described as extraordinary. I should make a quick correction, it wasn't the very first time we had camped with her ... we did venture out a few times last year, while she was about 6 months old and although wonderful in many ways, it was during a time where I was finding myself struggling to live in the moment. I was still adjusting to motherhood and all that came along with being a first time parent. I remember waking up in the night to her cries and not feeling as grateful as I should have to be in our comfy little trailer, crickets chirping around us and amazing forest views at every angle.
But this year, things were different. I would even venture to say that it was such a 180 from last year that I found myself living in the moment more than I had been even before I had Sav. Maybe even since I was just a child. It brought me back to a time long, long ago when I was looking at the world with youthful, oh so observant eyes. This is why time goes slower when we are children. I am sure of it. Every little detail was noticed back then. A ladybug landing on a leaf, a day of fort-building with friends - each moment was not only lived, but also discovered. As we get older we stop discovering and start rushing to move from one moment to the next. Time starts to speed, our vision starts to blur.
Watching her explore the forest for the first time made me explore the forest like it was my first time. Watching her shout out "HOW!" (her word for flower) every time she'd pass a dandelion, or point up towards the mountains multiple times a day and shout "Mou-mou!" as if each time she spotted them they were just as miraculous as the last made me stop to think ... isn't that funny? Why would it be surprising to me that she found them to be just as amazing each time she caught a glimpse? Because truly, they are. Spectacular. Always. We get complacent sometimes even when we are surrounded by beautiful things. I look out at the mountains everyday and a lot of the time I barely see them. It made my heart beat a little faster watching her get excited to see them every time, no matter how many times.
For every tough time I've had since Sav came into our lives, there have been moments like these that make me stop in my tracks. They make me grateful for the fact that I have her to walk beside, to have the opportunity to watch the world the same way that she does. It feels better than anything to be able to once again weave dandelions into bracelets to place on her tiny little wrists and to be able to stop and say "Look Sav!" as I point out the shapes in the stars, watching her look back at me the way she does, smiling with her eyes and flashing me her toothy smile that stretches from ear to ear.