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The challenges of campsite swimming

The Jacksons from the August 16, 2018 issue of the Manitoba Co-operator

cartoon image of a family seated at a table

Lightning flashed across the night sky, illuminating the trees swaying wildly in the wind above the Jacksons’ campsite, and a moment later a crash of thunder pealed out amid the steady drum of heavy rain pouring down from the clouds onto the Jacksons’ nice new tent.

Rose spoke into the darkness inside.

“Well, this is quite the adventure,” she said. “Starting our camping career with a bang.”

“You can say that again,” said Andrew, rolling over on his cot and staring up into the blackness. Another flash of lightning lit up the interior of the tent. “This is kind of insane.”

“Is the tent going to hold up?” Rose sounded doubtful.

“Oh yeah, for sure.” Andrew was clearly confident. “There’s not much wind down here in the trees. The real question is, are we going to stay dry?”

“So far so good,” said Rose, “but it is coming down in buckets isn’t it?”

“Yeah it is,” said Andrew. “It seems a little excessive.”

“I thought it was supposed to be sunny all weekend,” said Rose. “I listened to the weather forecast every day. Very disappointing. I mean ‘fake news’ is one thing, but ‘fake weather’ is just wrong.”

“Weather forecasts are wrong even when they’re not fake,” said Andrew, pausing as another crash of thunder drowned him out. “And also it’s after midnight so it’s not going to be sunny no matter what.”

Rose slid further into her sleeping bag so that the bag covered her ears. “I’m going to try to sleep,” she said, “but I’m keeping my expectations low.”

“Good night and good luck,” said Andrew.

The two of them lapsed into silence, a silence that was mocked by the elements around them. Lightning continued to flash at regular intervals, ear-splitting peals of thunder ringing almost constantly both near and far. Rain continued to pound on the roof of the tent and the wind kept up a non-stop deafening roar in the treetops high above. Despite all of that, eventually both Andrew and Rose found themselves drifting off to sleep.

“Whoa!” Andrew woke with a panicked yelp, startling Rose out of her near slumber.

“What?” Rose sat up involuntarily, reaching for the flashlight in the side pocket of her cot. “What happened?” She turned on the light to find Andrew sitting up on his cot, water dripping off his head and onto his sleeping bag.

“Somebody just dumped a gallon of water on my head,” said Andrew. He leaned forward so the water would drip on the floor instead. “Why are you laughing?” he added.

“Because you look like a drowned rat,” said Rose through her giggles. “You should see yourself!”

Andrew was examining the tent door, reaching for the zipper to secure the covering of the screen which had been left open to provide air circulation. “Not funny,” he said. “Who threw water on my head is what I want to know.” He reached for his own flashlight and shone it through the screen. “Oh crap,” he said. “There’s the problem.”

“What is it?” asked Rose, still chuckling. “Did you get doused by mischievous bear cubs?”

“Still not funny,” said Andrew. “Remember how we couldn’t figure out the fibreglass pole that holds up the awning over the door?”

“The one that wasn’t in the instructions?” said Rose.

“That’s the one,” said Andrew.

“What about it?” asked Rose.

“We figured it out wrong,” said Andrew, “so water collected on the awning instead of running off like it’s supposed to, and when it got heavy enough the fasteners on the fibreglass pole let go and the awning collapsed and dumped all that water directly onto my head through the open screen.”

Rose, who had swung her legs over the side of her cot, suddenly jerked her feet up into the air. “Augh! There’s a huge puddle on the floor!” she said. “Why?”

“Because we’re in a tent, not a cruise ship,” said Andrew, still shining his light on the door. “And also because somebody didn’t close the zipper at the bottom of the door all the way, so all the water from the awning that didn’t land on my head just ran down the outside of the tent and into the open zipper!”

“Oops,” said Rose.

It was Andrew’s turn to laugh. “I told you we should buy an RV,” he said.

Rose shook the water from her toes and carefully slid her feet back under her sleeping bag. “This is way too much fun,” she said. “In an RV we’d just be sleeping.”

“I think I’ve sealed everything,” said Andrew.

“Good,” said Rose. “Let’s go back to sleep. We can swim to safety in the morning.”

“Sounds good,” said Andrew, switching off his light. “Good thing we have air mattresses. At least we’ll stay afloat.”

“Amen,” said Rose.

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