Gratitude makes the journey better. Kindness, too.

A Teepee to Sleep In and A Whole Lot Of Ice

It’s Friday, late afternoon, 4pm or so and we’ve been contemplating thoughts of camping all week. We’re so close to everything since we moved to Kamloops, it’s tempting. Deadlines, how to, how to… It drizzles softly and the boys play. What if.

I work out my schedule, grab the writing pad and promise to not stress about the deadline. Gotta have the stuff done by Monday. I will, I will.  Half an hour later, the car is packed and we’re off to Blue River. For a teepee night, you see…

“Is it a real one, mom?” It’s been Sasha’s dream to sleep in a teepee. Max says we have to make this happen for him. So we will.
Making our way to Blue River Campground we battle heavy rain, speedy trucks and listen to The Wiggles and Steve Irwin CD. How many times can one listen to it? I’d say once if you’re over six, countless times if you’re six and under. We listened to it many times.

We arrive to Uncle Ralphie’s campground around 8pm. He’s the jolliest campground host we’ve seen. Rides in the golf cart for the boys, an armful of dry wood and some charcoal to light the fire, stories of coming all the way from Newfoundland. He mentions bears and pine martens and the boys are charmed.Even more so when Uncle Ralphie drops candy bars and popcorn to keep ourselves occupied around the fire, he says.

The teepee is big and rugged. You crouch to get in and out. There are plants growing inside and dust follows you in the sleeping bag. The night stands clear and crisp outside the teepee with a skyfull of twinkling stars like eyes watching us. Sleep then.

“But mom, aren’t teepees supposed to be made of animal skin and have paintings on them?” Sasha’s standards are high when it comes to teepees, you see. It’s all the literature he’s been perusing over the last few months. Well, yeah, you can see that too in some places. Maybe we will one day. “And the flap on top mom…” Kids these days.That keeps the rain in, my dear stickler. But it’s not like in the drawings and photos he’s seen, he argues. True, but wouldn’t you say that Uncle Ralphie’s cheerfulness made it quite right? To be continued… Go pick some blueberries, the last ones of the season, instead of looking the gift horse in the mouth…

We make the decision to drive to Jasper. Passing through a rainbow that chased the rain away. Just like that. My second rainbow in less than a month. I’m slightly apprehensive of ski towns that look new and proper, you know. I like real places with houses that whisper and giggle at you as you pass by. But Jasper looks right. We walk and find a rock and fossil store. “Mom, there’s dinosaur poop for sale,” the boys call. Snicker away, you slipped poop in a sentence the whole store was privy to. Same as always.

Driving through Icefields Parkway towards Lake Louise is a silent celebration. Turquoise moats around giant beautiful mountains. Mountain goats perched on rocks edges make the boys hold their breath. “The baby, mom, will it fall?” No, they know how to. We’re silent. In awe. Slabs of Earth slanted sideways like domino pieces, slippery tongues of ice that might or might not be here in a few hundred years, maybe sooner. “But why?” ask the boys. Because we’re cooking the planet, that’s why.

Global warming sounds so played for us adults but not so for them. “Why do people do that?” It’s not by intention, you see, but we dig so deep in those pockets of goodness that the planet has a limited supply of… it’s the things we want. Oh, the shaky talk about wants and needs. How to raise children and satisfy their needs (with an occasional want) when the wants curl around their legs like stray cats purring and clinging. “People are mean,” they call out. It’s unfair, they scream. It’s all of us, I tell them, we are all guilty of the same. That curled want that you can’t let go of…

In the days of instant gratification and upgrading to the next thing that promises to be better, faster, smarter and more fun, how do we turn to these quiet white giants to listen. Listen to what? Their beauty, I tell the boys. We take it all in and I wonder if they’ll remember passing through these worlds of stone and ice.

It turns dark and we’re almost at the fork in the road to Lake Louise. We turn right towards Yoho Park and after we drive through what looks like a most charming little gem of a town – that’s Field – we camp at Kicking Horse Campground. Nighttime chill makes for fast tent pitching. We talk of enchanted woods and their animal inhabitants. The fire crackles and sticks its many orange tongues at us. Cheeky is le mot du jour. I make the silly discovery of how to create a fountain of sparkles. That primordial fascination with fire is still going strong. Marshmallows abound, but why do they have to be so sticky.

We’re lulled to sleep by gentle raindrops licking the tent. Drum away… Morning… The boys are rolled up in their sleeping bags, their sleepy faces hiding behind that wild camping trip hair. Round nose tips and quiet breathing. Make it last… Will they remember the sweet smell of the fire and the rained-on woods and the crisp mornings you almost hear crunch under your feet as you get out of the tent? Will they remember enough to care?

Because all we can do is take them places, let them breathe in the quietness and hope they will. Pray they will… So that it lasts. Ice giants and all.


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  1. Magnus

    What a wonderful trip through the Rockies! The “giant beautiful mountains”, so mighty and serene, create memories for a lifetime.

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