A change of pace at a summer place

The seasonal site where we’ve parked our new-to-us camping trailer for the summer is close enough to home to commute back and forth easily. We hope to do that often.

On our first afternoon at camp, our daughter Amanda and I and a few of the grandchildren made our way to the beach at nearby Good Spirit Provincial Park.

Our family has some history with Good Spirit Lake. In recent years, her family has camped near it all summer, most every summer. But when she and her brother were young, thanks to the generosity of family friends, we often stayed in a lakefront cottage; always in September.

While the Preacher commuted back and forth to town on church business, the children and I spent the days savoring the sweetness of cottage life. We had no electronics then. We hiked, biked, read and paddled in the cottage’s old canoe. (Most Septembers the water had grown too cold for swimming.) One year I built a willow chair as a gift for our friends, to thank them for the loan of their family retreat.

The place felt massive; a spacious maze of staircases and hallways, with five bedrooms and a screened in porch facing the lake. Amanda took the red room upstairs, Anthony the bunk room on the north wing. Each had a view of the lake and their own staircase. They liked that. The Preacher and I used the room on the ground floor facing the water. We liked that too.

Some days we hiked to the sand dunes at the south end of Good Spirit. I took a photo of Amanda there, wearing jeans and a long periwinkle shirt, sitting halfway up a dune. Her long blonde hair blew in the breeze, her gaze fixed in the distance.

The shot reminds me of me at her age. The Burrard Inlet, a crooked and salty finger stretching out from the Pacific, sat mere steps and across the park from our backyard. It ran thick with log booms, freighters, tugboats and recreational craft. I often sat at the water. Just looking.

Good Spirit Lake, in September, had no such floating clutter. I remember its silence most. Summer houses sat shuttered, campgrounds and beach had emptied of vacationers. Only the seagulls, geese and herons kept us company, and a few other shorebirds I couldn’t identify.

We’ll get to know that lake in a busier season now. We’ll make different memories in our wee home on wheels. But more than ever, I realize that God’s blessings grow richer when shared – that that is his intent with all his gifts. Returning to our home and work refreshed, we’ll have opportunity to enjoy and pass on the fruit of a change of pace; a relaxed spirit and uncluttered mind. Of time spent nearer nature, nearer each other, and in closer communion with God and family.

Some things at home may not get done this summer. But other things, things long overdue, just may.