I’ve been known to worship at the altar of climate control. It’s not something I’m proud of, but it’s true. I don’t like to be uncomfortable. I am Claudia, From the Mixed-up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler, who doesn’t like picnics because the sun melts the icing on the cupcakes. When it comes to first world problems, I’m the queen. Thankfully, there is grace enough even for a temperature worshiping mama like myself. Sometimes it takes witnessing a tragedy like the devastation caused by recent hurricanes Harvey and Irma to remind us how much we actually have…and sometimes it just takes a camping trip. I use the term camping loosely here to describe how my family spent Labor Day weekend. My husband’s stepsister (stepsister-in-law?) married her long time boyfriend in the Berkshires. The ceremony was beautiful; the reception was worthy of Pinterest. But there was one major things that separated this wedding from the thousands of Dream Wedding boards flooding the internet: it took place at a summer camp, and we were the campers. That’s right; all of the attendees, bride and groom included, spent two nights roughing it summer camp style. Bunk beds and mosquito bites are not really my thing, but this wedding wasn’t about me and I’ve seen The Parent Trap before. This will be fine. When I found out the campground was only 30 minutes away from a sourdough bakery I had been dying to try I even started to look forward to it!
By the time we packed our Mazda 5 with clothes, bedding, towels, formal wear, a small TV & Blu-ray player (I’m not kidding, I told you we’re not outdoorsy!), our children, and a partridge in a pear tree, my optimism was waning. Thankfully, our first stop, Berkshire Mountain Bakery, did not disappoint. I savored every morsels of their chocolate chunk sourdough ciabatta – the sweet tangy, decadent calm before the storm -or before the frost, as fate would have it.
So there we are on a lake, in the mountains, the smell of pine all around us, and everyone is having fun the night before the wedding, drinking beers and making s’mores. Only we’re not doing any of that because we have three very young children with 7 o’clock bed times. Being in a one room cabin, our whole family just turned in early, and then our whole family just woke up at 2 AM when the temperature dropped to 40 degrees in our unheated cabin. I’d like to remind you that we are city people. We have ‘recreational sleeping bags’ and ‘all season’ cotton blankets. Let’s just say we were ‘uncomfortable’ because 40 degrees is the temperature it should be inside of your refrigerator right now. Very little sleeping actually too place after that. The following night got all of the way up to 50 (which is actually still a lot colder than it sounds like), and by the time Sunday rolled around, I was ready to get back home to our, sweet, sweet insulation…
I learned two things that weekend. 1) I have no business camping, under any circumstances or to any degree, for any reason, whatsoever, ever again. And 2) My first world problems are so, so small. While I sit here and complain about my all expenses paid trip to the Berkshires there are millions of Americans without electricity, or who have completely lost their homes, because of that Son-of-a-Butcher Harvey and his witch of a sister Irma. Texas and Florida need our support a whole lot more than I needed heat in our cabin. Will that stop me from turning up our heat the second we get a fall day that drops below 65? Nope! But it does remind me to be a little more thankful for the crazy-wonderful life I live, even when it gets a little bit uncomfortable.
“You can complain about anything, “one of my best friends told me. “You’re a Grumpy Cat.” She’s not the first to notice. I’ve also been called Grumplestiltskins by multiple people, and other less flattering names in the same vein. Even my kids are starting to pick up on it.
“Mommy,” they ask, “are you grumpy?” And after one miserable night in the wild, I want to start answering ‘no’ to that question a whole lot more. I don’t actually have much to be grumpy about. I’m always so much better than I deserve. I have an amazing husband, three beautiful kids, decadent chocolate sourdough bread, and a house with an A/C in every window. So starting now I’m going to try to hold onto gratitude, instead of giving in to grumpiness. But please don’t make me prove it by going camping again, because I am not a happy camper.