You can't be suspicious of a tree, or accuse a bird or a squirrel of subversion or challenge the ideology of a violet.
~Hal Borland, Sundial of the Seasons
Summer had finally arrived, after a long Canadian winter and a wet spring. The only problem was that the summer was looking like "monsoon season" and was putting a damper on my desire to go camping. But my husband had pulled our trailer to the mountains by the middle of June and I had promised that after the first weekend in July, I would join him. Friends that we camped with every year were also at the campground awaiting my arrival. I decided, rather grudgingly, to go even though the skies were dark and cloudy and the weather reports promised more rain.
It was good to see everyone and the next few weeks were a flurry of shared dinners and visits around the campfire. I spent time reading, walking with friends and taking photographs of the stunning mountains, sky and wildlife.
One evening as night closed in, we sat around the campfire laughing and teasing one another. Suddenly there was a crunching sound. We stared beyond the fire, into the darkness. Something was out there.
"Did you hear that?" one lady asked.
"I heard it," I said. My heart began to pound wildly. Maybe the cougar spotted a few days earlier had returned.
Silence prevailed as we strained to see anything beyond the rim of firelight. There was a plopping sound, then a grey creature moved across the gravel, just beyond the light.
What was it? We held our breath as the thing again dropped onto the gravel and scurried out of sight beyond our friend's trailer.
"Maybe it's a flying squirrel," someone said.
There was another plop and disappearance near the trailer. Something seemed odd. What was it?
A friend grabbed his camera and waited for the creature to return. We waited and waited. "I think it's gone," someone said.
But it landed again and just as quickly vanished.
"You'll have to tell me when to shoot," our camera buff said to me. "I can't see it fast enough."
I stood and waited. "Now," I shouted, and he tried but was unable to get a picture of the strange rodent.
He moved to the rim of the firelight, positioning himself for a better shot, then began to laugh. There was a crunching of gravel and from beyond the trailer's darkened end emerged the thirty-something son of a couple who were sitting around the campfire. He carried a fishing rod. On the end of the fishing line was a grey sock, stuffed to give it a head and body. We had all been duped by a flying grey sock!
Laughter prevailed. We sat long into the evening reminiscing of past years and other pranks. I smiled as I pulled a blanket around me to keep out the encroaching night chill. Yes the camping weather differed from most summers but the friendship remained the same. I looked at the faces, with firelight dancing across them, and thanked God for this group of friends. No, I corrected myself, these were more than friends. They were family, chosen summer family. And my heart swelled with love for them. I pulled the blanket closer and smiled. There was no place I'd rather be.