October. Fall. Temperature dropping. Sweater weather. Most people are putting their gardens to bed and packing away lawn chairs and beach toys. Yet, we're packing and loading the truck and heading up the Ottawa Valley for our last camping trip of the season.
Fall is my favourite time of year. As someone who has spent most of my life as a student or as a teacher, September has always meant back to school for me. And I have always loved the feel of things kicking into gear in the fall. Usually by early October I would be back at work. Prepping lessons, getting to know new classes, bracing myself for the onslaught of marking before the midterm report in a few weeks.
But I retired from teaching in early 2013. And this September was my fourth September of freedom. And while fall still seems like a time of beginnings.... they are beginnings of a very different nature now.
Hubby and I love camping. Summer camping is great for swimming and canoeing and fishing. But fall camping is the best. Our favourite. And now that we're both retired, we don't have to wait for Thanksgiving Weekend for our fall camping trip. And this makes fall camping even better.
And here's why.
Here are our neighbours at Bonnechere Provincial Park on the Sunday afternoon when we arrived.
To the south...
To the north..
At the beach...
That's right. Empty. No crowds. No one at all. There are (according to the girl at the park office) eight other sites occupied this week. But we might as well have the park to ourselves.
So we walk, and cycle. Sometimes in the bush.
The fall colours are not as breathtaking this year as in the past. But the golden poplar leaves against the deep blue sky are wonderful. And not out shone, like most years, by the maple leaves, which are either still green on some trees.
Or have fallen already.
Oops. I spoke too soon. On our drive back from Paugh Lake we spy a little branch of red maple leaves... not to be confused with the Maple Leafs. Hockey joke.... seeing as how the "season" begins very soon. Sigh.
One day during the week, Hubby golfed and I walked the course with him. It was a perfect fall morning. Bright and chilly.
But the cool breeze and my scrutiny didn't put Hubby off his stroke.
The golf course is very hilly and most golfers use carts. But we loved the walk. At the top of one steep slope, we could see far out over the hills behind Wilno. I could happily spend an hour on this bench with my book.
It feels odd when we leave the golf course and drive into the village of Killaloe to have lunch at Dan's Country Diner. There's a whole work-a-day world going on that we have forgotten about while we've been walking and golfing. And for a moment I feel a lurch in my stomach. Guilt. As if I'm forgetting some chore I need to have done. Or as if I've been doing something I shouldn't be doing. Like a kid playing hookey from school.
This retirement thing takes some getting used to, I guess.
And lest you should think that the whole week of fall camping was sunshine and breezes. We did have some rain.
But I can handle a little rain when there's a hot cup of tea and a good book waiting for me back at the camper.
And when I realize that not too long ago at this time of year I'd be staggering under an enormous pile of marking and soon calculating marks for all my new classes.
Instead, when we return from our new tradition of mid-week fall camping, Hubby starts back playing hockey. And I'll be digging out the new-ish skates I bought last year and planning to use them at least once a week. Not to mention looking forward to my new fall knitting project and finishing "turning my closet."
And I'm sure I'll be well able to handle the tiny pinprick of guilt I'll feel at all this freedom.
Are you able to escape the "madding crowd" this fall? (Apologies to Thomas Hardy.)