I am a firm believer in taking breaks from the hustle and bustle of the city. As someone who works downtown and is already following a packed schedule for school, the hustle becomes routine. Sometimes city life becomes too repetitive: the buzz of peoples’ conversations become deafening, the frustrated chorus of honks and road rage from drivers become tiring, and even the scampering of U of T squirrels lose their cute charm and become annoying. Particularly with the latter: when the squirrels start losing their fear of people and boldly walk alongside you as you try to cross through a quad, those squirrels might as well be paying taxes, too.
Luckily, I had an opportunity to take a break from Toronto a couple weeks ago when my friends invited me camping for a weekend. Though, there was one tiny issue: I am not the greatest camper, meaning not that I’m bad at setting up tents or starting fires (though the latter is definitely not one of my strong suits), but that it takes a while for me to get used to the idea of “roughing it”.
We took three cars and I sat inside a black Volkswagen, listening to tunes ranging from The Beatles to Kendrick Lamar to Flume and watched trees and other cars whiz by. When we arrived at the destination, (which was Cape Croker Park, just a few blocks away from Lake Huron) it was raining. So as we scrambled to set up the tents after quickly checking in with front desk, I was decked out in a waterproof rain jacket, muddy shoes, and, unfortunately, an empty stomach.
After many tries, we successfully got shelter up and ready, and then tackled another problem: the campfire. While finding dry leaves and throwing paper plates into the firepit, lighting them to try and get the flames to dry out the damp firewood, I found it very ironic how people pay a lot of money to live poorly. The fire took around an hour, teary smoke-filled eyes, and newfound patience to be fully functional, allowing us to grill up sausages and burgers. After a hearty lunch, we bounded to the camp “beach”, a cobbled coast of pebbles and water sheltered by bluffs and trees. The skies were grey and soothing while my friends and I splashed and frolicked in the depths, chilly water becoming lukewarm relative to our blue bodies.
And as I laid down on my air mattress (who said I had to completely rough it?) that night, my mind started to become used to the sounds of crickets chirping intermittently amidst the quiet forest. I was actually away from the frenetic energy of the city, retreating with people I cherish where the entertainment is listening to crackling wood, ghost or personal stories, and impromptu karaoke, not going out dancing at a dance hall (though, there was quite a bit of dancing around the fire, like something out of Shakespearean play). My mind was able to recharge, my lungs able to breathe smog-free air and my eyes free of smartphone screens or laptop documents.
The rest of the weekend followed the same tone, perhaps deviating a little bit: waking up at 6AM to see fog settle down over the beach, instant noodles for breakfast, reaching the actual coast of Lake Huron, hiking at Lion’s Head trail, skipping rocks and sprinting to outhouses. But for me, these breaks were necessary; they were exciting and calming at the same time. During the school year, at some points I’ll probably be stressed out, unhappy in procrastination and wearing weariness on my sleeve, but I know that even just thinking about calm skies and quiet coffee filled mornings will help relieve my brain.
Make August a restful month, a quiet finish to a busy summer before September rolls around and picks up the cycle once again. What was your experience like camping? Let me know below.