I am not a wilderness girl.
I am, however, a self-admitted hippie. I try to be green. I started composting, although it totally skeeves me out when I open up the bin and the fruit flies come swarming out, and I have yet to harvest any of it for actual use in helping things to grow. I do weird things like use cloth diapers and cloth menstrual pads, make my own deodorant and protect my kitchen from ants using black pepper. I helped M plant a few things in the garden on the side of our house thinking that maybe if it goes well, we’ll eat some fresh spinach or cucumbers later this summer.
My husband has family and the family has property in Upper Michigan. When we have discussed our retirement plans in the past, and he’d expressed interest in moving up there someday. And because I’ve become even more of a hippie than I even used to be, I had begun to seriously consider it. Wide open spaces. Beautiful views. Family history. Connection to our roots. Small towns where everyone knows you.
Then last weekend, we went there.
And even though I thought I was prepared–I packed long pants, long sleeves, lace-up shoes and plenty of socks and extra clothing for me and for the boys–I was woefully under-prepared, emotionally. Because along with the wide open spaces and beautiful views are the mosquitoes and the ticks. And something about tromping through mud and grass and animal poop just got to me. So much so that I pretty much used my 1-year-old as an excuse to stay in the van and take in the sights from behind our tinted windows.
The thing is, I really want to give my kids a love of the outdoors. I don’t want my hang-ups to paralyze them when it comes to exploring their world. My husband and father-in-law have such joyful memories of their experiences up north, I want to give my kids some of that same joy. Now that I’m back in my comfortable air-conditioned and relatively bug-free home, I wish I had been more adventurous, myself. I wish I’d walked around, dug out my camera and taken some shots of my beautiful family among the lush greenness and luminous lake views.
I didn’t want to be such a wet blanket, honestly. I wanted to go out and get muddy and bug-bitten and come home tired and dirty with happy memories. And I did bring home some good memories of quality family time spent at the hotel pool, at a couple of local restaurants and the home of a dear aunt and uncle. I drew a tree and got a lot of reading done. I really did try not to complain or freak out too much. And part of me thinks that maybe, had we spent more than just two days there, maybe I would’ve gotten over whatever it was that was blocking me and actually embraced the wilderness… at least a little bit more than I did.
But let’s be honest. If you really want me happy in the wild, take me to the beach.