Little miss and I were invited to spend the long weekend camping with friends. As a child, I joined the GFS (Girls Friendly Society). I didn’t last long. Those chicks participated in sedentary activities, mostly indoors. I quit, and enlisted in CEBS (Church of England Boys Society). There was concern about having a girl along at the camp’s, but they couldn’t find an actual rule that forbade my becoming involved. The boys were mostly wounded soldiers, involved in familial wars via conscription. One young boy came from such a fractious family that they were featured on 60 Minutes. We were comrades. From nine years of age through to adolescence, I would join the boys on camps. We camped in the Australian outback, didn’t wash for a week and dug our own toilets. I would pitch my little tent besides the boy’s large canopy shelter, and raid the supply tent in the middle of the night. After my back was snapped, I never went on another camp.
I tossed up my friend’s invitation, and was indecisive for a while. I was concerned about my spine. Would I be so crippled with pain that I wouldn’t be able to move? There wouldn’t be reception where we were headed. There are other health issues going on, that need attending to in the next few weeks. I felt anxiety about being away from my comforts, and wondered how I would cope. I was surprised that the idea of going bush conjured up so much fear, where it once provided such joy. The deciding factor’s were the people I was going to join, and the enthusiasm of my little girl. My friends would look out for us, and my daughter was excited about sleeping in a tent, her first experience! A part of my life which had been comatose since my fall, was awakened, and I felt freedom and wildness and trust that I hadn’t felt in such a long time.
The generator was turned off, and we retreated to our tents. My little girl and I cuddled down and relayed stories, then she fell asleep. I read for a bit then drifted off. We woke with a start by the feel of possums pressing on us through the roof of the tent. A whole family of them were twittering. “What is that mummy?!” little miss asked. “Just possums,” I hoped. I had never seen Wolf Creek, and was very glad that I am not into horror movies. When you are laying in a camping ground in the pitch black, your imagination is active enough. We both needed the loo, and unable to stand it any longer, we crept out to the port-a-loo. “Look up!” my companion gasped, and I had my breath pulled from my lungs. The stars were incredible, as though the angels had poked delicate fingers through the navy crepe paper of the sky and allowed us a tease of heaven’s sparkle. We stood there for several minutes, looking up. Finding our way back via a fading torch proved fun, and we both giggled. I am so glad that we ticked a goal off our bucket list. I am so glad that the fear of pain; of being in agony far away from home was quashed. If you have never heard the cacophony of birds waking at the break of dawn in the Australian Bush, you need to. It was the purest and sweetest sound I can recall. I came home tired, grubby, in pain but replenished. I learnt never to limit myself, nor talk myself out of doing something that is unfamiliar or out of my comfort zone. That is often where the best experiences lay in wait.