My parents owned a tent trailer. Not the super kind with the king sized beds, kitchen table, stove and porta-potty, but the simplest of trailers. Mom and dad would sleep on one of the cramped double beds on one side, my two older sisters slept on the other bed, my younger sister and I on the floor between them, and our two brothers in the canvas tent outside.
The tent trailer wasn’t the most cooperative either. My father wasn’t the cursing type, but if ever there was a time that one could appropriately insert an explicit, it would be when the back left corner of the [*$^&#] lifting-contraption snagged. In 30 degree weather after travelling through 12 hours of construction with six hot headed kids in a cramped LTD, now running wildly through the neighbours’ campsites in dehydrated delirium, he was a saint for not strangling the every one of us.
I remember a scene when I was about 10, so vividly that I think it should be engraved on my tombstone one day. My younger sister, only 6, and I, ventured up from our site behind our campout onto a lovely tree-covered hill which opened up into a serene valley. I have driven by the location dozens of times since then. It’s located on the road just south of Radium Hot Springs in BC, just west of the highway.
She and I found our way into a lovely clearing, where the purple, orange, yellow blossoms of British Columbia wildflower smiled at us and welcomed us on our little adventure. I coaxed my cautious little sister into the open meadow, and briefly ran with her into the open sunlight.
The personal exhilaration for open adventure at such a young age, however, messed with my conscience. In a strangely bizarre response to the joy of open freedom, I turned to my little sister, and screamed, “Bear!!!” and began running down the steep hill to safety. In terror, the dear little girl ran full tilt down the dangerous incline in the direction of the safety of Dad and Mom, jerking and jumping through trees, rocks, branches and roots, until the steep slant of the hill overtook her, and she tumbled down the hill in a rolled up dusty bundle, miraculously missing trunk, gunk and skunk before finally resting below the back of our pathetic little tent trailer.
It goes without saying that I received a sharp word of discipline for my nastiness that day, and I am often reminded of my callous little stunt, now 30 years after the fact. But every time I drive by that little campground on the hill, I think back to the thrill of the climb, the happiness of freedom in the carefree meadow, and the warmth of the summer sunshine.
And I consider that day one to be always remembered and forever cherished.