Enjoying the month of MAYhem

May is really a great month … first sneak peak of summer, a wild long weekend, and a chance for nature

May is really a great month … first sneak peak of summer, a wild long weekend, and a chance for nature to burst out in all its glory after a really long and cold winter. Most everyone can hopefully get outside in May, whether it be in the garden, packing up the crew for a glorious taste of camping and fresh air, all sorts of sports, or just a casual stroll or ride in the spring sunshine and refreshing rain.

We don’t do much camping anymore, but as soon as the birds start to sing and the buds begin to pop, it is so great to dress down and dash outside, to wander amongst nature, maybe have a picnic, and then slowly get started on a much needed tan. You can now let the kids loose in the backyard or playground, but make sure that you douse them with an ample supply of suntan lotion and bug spray, and have a good supply of band-aids on hand.

A camping we will go

Whether one ventures out in your $100,000.00 motor home or toss your pup tent in the trunk, camping under the stars will always be an invigorating experience, and can be enjoyed by the whole family, or at least until they become teenagers. Like many of you, my favourite early memories of camping was to pack up and head out with mom and dad and the rest of the clan, hopefully bringing along a friend and the dog. Later there might be a glorious weekend campout with the Cubs and Scouts at Gull Lake or Camp Woods, snuggling up under the blankets on a dark and stormy night in a tent or lean-to. It started with all boys, but we knew that the Brownies and Girl Guides camp was just around the corner, and a treat was to get together for a wiener roast and a sing-song on parent’s day.

We learned how to survive on some of our own cooking, went out into the woods to follow tracks and search for wildlife, and carved our woggles and whistles out of wood and bones. Swimming and playing games in the lake with the ‘buddy system’ was great fun and earning our badges was the best, but we learned to stay away from poison ivy and bee’s nests, changed our underwear every day, and never had time to get home sick. Next to making new friends, the neatest thing about camping was sitting around the roaring campfire at night, telling scary stories, singing out of tune and burning marshmallows.

And then, when we finally grew up and our own kids wanted to go camping we filled up the car with grub, gear, and four kids and pulled our tiny tent trailer out to the lake. You likely set up a tent for the oldest offspring, but then if it stormed in the night, they all ended up in the two beds or under the table. Our first task before going exploring in the campground was to set up camp, string clothes line, make a fire pit out of rocks, then go and gather lots of dry wood. I understand nowadays that you either bring your own firewood on a camping excursion, or pay $7.00 for a dry bundle that will likely burn up in a half hour, but I guess that’s the price of progress and environmental planning? One should never get bored while out ‘roughing it’ in the wilds, with adventures including hiking, swimming, fishing, boating, or just wandering around the sandy beach and meeting all sorts of new friends in outrageous outfits, sandals, and hairdos. The only really modern gadget that you had at your camp-sight were those trusty old Coleman Stoves and lamps, which had to be pumped up to get going There we no hook-ups back then,  water came from  hand-pumps, and there were those quaint wooden toilets, which did not have showers. Most meals were cooked in black steel pots on a rusty grill placed over the smoky camp fire, tasted absolutely fabulous, and were washed down with dear old dad’s extremely strong coffee, or maybe even a beer.

Has it changed much over the years? Not really…. everyone has certainly added a lot more gadgets and toys to their camping itinerary, but our main purpose of being out there with nature should be to relax and have a good time with family and friends. Please don’t forget that you now have to book your camping spot in advance for the whole summer, and for those who have snuck away to your favourite secluded hideaways in the wilderness for many years, they will likely now be even busier, and one had better get there earlier. Camping fees have gone up quite a bit over the years, but there are many more fancy perks available for tourists, which will soon include ‘Wi-Fi in the wilderness.’  Whatever the case, please enjoy the many other grand traditions and family events of May and beyond, including garage sales, farmer’s markets, garden centre browsing, and all the rest. Whatever pastime you may choose, please play safe, drive carefully, try to save a little quality time for yourself, and have a great week, all of you.



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