In some ways camping when you have limited physical mobility is similar to childbirth. Hauling yourself around on your knees or your elbows in a confined space, dressing yourself while lying down either on a bouncy air bed or the hard ground, putting your shoes on every time you need to go outside yet unable to reach your feet, being super careful not to let your sticks slip on the floor of the ablutions block, struggling to pull yourself from the ground to the air bed just four inches higher, trying to sit on the ground knowing that your upper body will topple over as soon as you take your weight off your hands … everything is so damn exhausting you wonder why you put yourself here and swear you’ll not do it again. Then you wake up as the sky is lightening, you hear the dawn chorus (and remember why it’s called a chorus), smell the fresh clean air that smells all the better because there’s only a few microns of nylon between you and it. You lie on the floor of the tent with the flap open and you gaze up at the clear night sky where you can see millions of stars. And it’s worth all the effort.
This time camping became a collaborative effort. I had to swallow my pride and accept that I needed help. Climbing those few inches from the ground to the airbed took too much energy I needed for other things, so my husband pulled me up from under my arms, then pulled me down by my ankles … undignified but effective. I let him run round after me while I lay on the rug by the tent reading in the sun … not so bad. He picked up after me while I slipped (figuratively) into the swimming pool to cool off … nice. I sat reading in the sun while he put the tent up, then I sat in the car keeping dry while he packed the tent away in the pouring rain.
Still, it was hard work and now I’m home I feel like I need a rest but that’s not possible. I need to keep moving, keep stretching, walk a little, exercise a little, not sit too long, not stay in one position too long, although that’s a small price to pay to stay mobile, to stay upright and to walk.
This may have been the last time I can live in a tent for a few days … but then camping for me is a little like childbirth …