A newfound interest in camping

January 07, 2007|By SUSAN REIMER

My husband and I had a kind of O. Henry Christmas.

You remember the story. The woman cuts off her long hair and sells it to buy her husband a chain for his pocket watch. He sells his pocket watch to buy his love a comb for her hair.

Our Christmas was like that. Sort of.

I bought my husband a camping stove. And he thought about buying me a camping stove.

He might actually have bought the camping stove if he hadn't seen an e-mail that was not intended for him in which I told his brothers I was buying him a camping stove.

You can see that his protestation that he wanted to buy me a camping stove is a little suspect. But I will take what I can get.

Whatever. He also got a camping coffee pot and I got a camping lantern. These gifts go nicely with the tent that I bought him for his birthday. We already have sleeping bags, but I am hoping for a pair of those nice cots for Valentine's Day.

You are seeing a theme emerge, no doubt. My husband and I are in the cocoon stage of camping. By late spring, we hope to be camping butterflies.

Don't ask me why. We earn a decent living and our children have not drained us of absolutely every cent, although it is close. We could afford a Motel 6 here and there.

But we went camping last summer with my brother-in-law and his wife

and their three children, and we got a vision of how peaceful and delightful a weekend in nature can be.

Not from my brother-in-law and his wife and three children. That was pure chaos. I mean, what do you expect?

No. The peaceful vision came from the couple in the camping spot next to us. They traveled with a minimum of camping stuff and a maximum of books and had what looked to be a perfect weekend.

"We should camp," I said. But my husband thought I was being rash.

"Why not just get a room at a bed and breakfast and look out the window at nature," he said. You'd have thought it was me talking.

No, I said. We should camp.

There is no history of camping in our family. My own children would not sleep in a tent in the backyard during all their growing up. They wouldn't even spend an afternoon playing in a tent.

My husband's parents never took him camping. In fact, my mother-in-law nearly fainted from embarrassment when my husband's brother and his wife bought a camper to hook onto the back of their van and drag into the woods.

My parents wouldn't have considered taking my three sisters and me camping, which wasn't a problem because we wouldn't have considered going.

My own children are very suspect of our newfound interest in camping. My daughter isn't going anywhere that is that far from civilization and a blow dryer. My son, who camps with his new Marine friends all the time, is totally over camping.

He has told us that we need to start camping slowly. Like in the backyard.

"What makes you the expert in backyard camping?" I asked, ruefully. "You wouldn't even eat a snack out there."

Trust me on this, he said, in that annoying way children have of thinking they are experts, not necessarily on camping, but on their parents.

"I think mom is having her second midlife crisis," Joe confided to my husband.

"We must have missed the first one," he replied.

susan.reimer@baltsun.com

To hear an audio clip of this column and others, go to baltimoresun.com/reimer.

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