I went away for several days; off to where Lake Ontario spoons the shores of Upstate New York. The beachline stretched beyond my sight, past buoys marked for ‘swim at your own risk,’ private residences, and wildlife management areas. Fresh water, sometimes smooth as a reflecting pool, other times choppy and reminiscent of ocean surf, extended until the horizon kissed the sky. As the thirteenth largest lake in the entire world, it is one of those landforms that washes me with humility and awe.
Another couple and their child invited us to the getaway months ago. Their site had room for another tent, and we’d been talking about camping for some time. Friends and grovemates, it meant for a peaceful time away from obligations among people with whom I can be myself. As I sat on a sandbank, foamy waves splashed against me as one friend shared an experience with Manannán mac Lir, and then we felt the god there with us in waters that would flow through the St. Lawrence and reunite with the Atlantic Ocean.
We took shelter from the sun in the shaded areas of the camp, renewing my gratitude for trees. Our first day there, my daughter and I made offerings and said a prayer of thanksgiving to the green sentinels who guarded our refuge. When we left, the children and I placed kisses on the grass.
As the sun arched low, we built fires for warmth and even cooking. I had another humbling experience in which I burnt the peach cobbler I’d attempted to make, but I successfully cooked chili over the flames, and in the mornings I boiled water for tea. We made offerings to the fire, to Brigid, and cozied beside her. Our final day coincided with my flame-tending shift, and I now see ways I can deepen that practice with new skills.
Returning to the comforts of home, especially our soft mattresses, was welcomed, but I do miss falling asleep to the lullaby of a crackling bonfire on the sand, wind through the trees, and waves rolling toward the dunes.