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Sunday, October 15, 2006

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Happy, Campers?

We are just back from a prematurely terminated camping weekend. I am disappointed we are home a day early. Considering it takes nearly a full day just to pack and unpack, an overnight expedition is hardly worth the effort. But I am not all that surprised things didn't go according to plan. The portents were ominous from the start, such as the flock of vultures who took up residence in the tree above our site as we were raising the tent and remained there with an indiscreet air of expectation for the duration of our stay. Then it began to rain first thing this morning, and didn't let up until the exact moment the bumper of our fully loaded minivan crossed the campground exit gate. Between those parenthesized dramatic devices, I was in overdrive as camp counsellor, cook, housekeeper and activities coordinator, trying to make it all work. The buzzards no doubt smelled my desperation from the get-go.

The process of roping my husband into accompanying me on a camping trip is the story of an unstoppable force meeting an immovable object. Patrick is a self-described "beta male". By his own admission, he is perfectly content to let the alphas ride off to the battle, or hunt, or live sporting event, while he stays behind to hold down the fort and--ostensibly--to comfort the women and children. While he is in many ways a guy's guy (meat and potatoes palate, an unhealthy obsession with college football, and a near-sexual excitement over power tools), outdoorsy he is not.

(Here we see the beta male father, smoking a cigarette and directing our eager alphling in the fetching of firewood.)

I, on the other hand, love to camp. I love everything about it. The list-making (3X5 index cards do for me what the idea of a tablesaw/planer does for my husband). The site-surveying. The menu-planning. The precision-loading of the van, like life-size Tetris. I love setting up camp, making the beds, unfolding the chairs, hoisting the tarp. From the time the back door of the van opens, I am six years old and playing house, or fort. It is, as many things are with me, a Big Production (See my packing list, a few months back).

(And here we have a partial view of the campsite in all its tarpaulined splendor. Note the string of Halloween lights, my little nod to the season.)

Patrick is exhausted at first sight of the index cards. This man, who started his freelance business on a wing and a prayer a year ago and has so far kept the lights on and the kids in Land's End by the by the sweat of his brow. This man, who once spent the better part of a month on Greyhounds and chicken buses between Mexico and Newfoundland, during the worst nor'easter of the last century, just to try and save my life from me. This hard-working, undauntable, manly man would sooner eat dirt than sleep on it, under the stars, with me, his hard-won bride. Replace "stars" with rainclouds and vultures, and we cross over from "willing sacrifice" to "dark night of the soul" territory. It's a wonder I didn't find myself on a chicken bus this morning. With a note pinned to my rain poncho.

Bless him, he was a good sport, even with a full bladder and the baby kicking him repeatedly in the kidneys (and by "good sport," I mean, I do not think money needs to be set aside for extra therapy time for the children once they are old enough to seek it out. Not over this trip anyway).

I did have one trump in my hand, and that was the whiff of trout. No, I am not speaking euphemistically. I mean actual trout. I chose a campground that borders a world-famous trout river, so he was able to give his new birthday suit and rubbers a whirl. Okay, that was euphemistic. I mean the hip-waders and boots I gave him. He didn't catch much, but he looked darned spiffy. And sort of alpha.

I'd bite.

Filed under: domestic, marriage, goodtimes
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Blogger bluebird of paradise said...

sounds like fun. after watching a tv documentary on the asian carp taking over the waterways in the south, pat should have caught something. he sure looks the part........

5:22 AM  
Blogger K. said...

those racist bastards at CBC. there's room in our waterways for everybody.

7:54 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

the bivvy comment goes here, see Birds of paradise to get the full deal.

9:24 AM  
Anonymous Tracy said...

Like life size tetris, I love that, good description. Been there myself, only I have to do it with the trunk of a '92 Buick. Come to think of it, I might actually have more room to work with than you do.

6:28 PM  
Blogger Patrick said...

Yeah, but what is everyone saying about ME?

1:34 PM  
Blogger becca said...

Alpha, beta, whatever - Patrick looks fabulous as an outdoorsy-camping-fishing kind of guy here! Although for a minute there I thought we were going to see a picture of him fishing in his "birthday suit!"

8:47 AM  

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