Finding Ourselves in Nature
Guest post by Kendall Hunter
A few years ago, while living in the UK I would sometimes watch a TV program called "Holiday Swap". Two separate families, unfamiliar with each other would be approached at the airport by a TV crew as they were about to leave on their yearly vacation. They were offered free holidays if they agreed to "swap" tickets and fly off to each other's previously selected destination. Invariably, one family had opted for the all-inclusive resort holiday and the other a more...shall I say, off the beaten path experience. What struck me the most while watching was how those who took the "less relaxing" of the holidays, those that ended up doing something like canoeing in Iceland instead of lounging on a sandy beach in Mallorca seemed to be the one's pronouncing by the end of the show that it was the best vacations they'd ever had. The "loungers", the one's forced to put up their feet and work on their tan, felt cheated and peculiarly far less relaxed.
I think of this now, as a mother who's recently re-entered the Banff atmosphere after over a decade in warmer climes in Europe. As the snow tests the strength of the tree branches in our front yard this Mother's Day, my resiliency too, is tested. It's been a very long winter and even though visions of beach breaks are dancing in my head, something is niggling me - it's the memory of last summer.
My kids and I badly needed a real holiday, a step away from the routine, to leave behind a pile of stress and forget about things for awhile. The offer to go to Bobbie Burns came out of the blue. Admittedly, it wasn't my first choice for a dream holiday or shall I say, it wasn't what I thought we needed but I wasn't about to turn it down. I also have to admit, I considered going without the kids. After all I couldn't remember the last time I had more than a few uninterrupted hours to myself. But, I was also struggling with the knowledge my kids and I hadn't shared a lot of fun time lately and an opportunity like heli-hiking doesn't come around every day. I worried for a short while that the hikes would be too long, my kids age 10 and 12 may be bored at the lodge...we were, I had a feeling, like that family on the BBC standing at the airport with a holiday presented to us, not one we expected and quite possibly something we may not have even considered, but one that could end up being something we would never forget.
My kids may still be dreaming of that Hawaiian holiday. (Ok, they are still dreaming of that Hawaiian holiday) but I've realized that beautiful memories are often made in the most unexpected of situations. Like those heavy snowfall days when the town is hunkered in with fireplaces crackling but you say to heck with it, let's go out anyway. Come to think of it, it was usually one of my daughters that would say "let's get all our stuff on and go out in the snow!". And just like that, we were out of the routine and into something magical. As chimneys exhaled into the quiet skies, we'd be pulled out straight into a Catharine Whyte painting - a classic, original memory etched, that would remain with us forever. A step off the beaten path into nature inhibits us from solely bearing witness to the world around us, it seeps in; eddies around and stays with us a very long while.
I ask my kids about our trip to the Bobbie Burns now nine months after the fact. Their first comment - their lingering memory was interestingly the 'smell' of nature. I think it's a testament to the natural world's power to slow us down, getting us in sync with not only ourselves again but with one another. It had nothing to do with maximizing our experience with the sunniest weather conditions or overwhelming desire to do absolutely nothing and everything to do with breathing it all in and the smiles between us that said we'd figured out something kinda important - that should never be forgotten.
~ What is your favourite memory from last summer? Share it in the comments below. Create new life memories for you and your family this summer on a CMH Summer Adventure in BC Canada.