It was a little thing, really. A fall camping trip that I’d built up in my head for months. There’d be hikes during the day and camp foods and cobbler bubbling on an open fire at night, all playing out on the shore of the lake at our favorite state park. It was all of this…and something a bit more. See, as my kids get older, it becomes harder to find those special times away from activities and jobs. As I see them quickly morphing out of their childhood and becoming adults, I am painfully aware that all too soon, they’ll have lives beyond my home, outside of our family structure. So every chance for family time seems, lately, to be something bigger, something more.
We’re no strangers to the volatile nature of fall camping in the Virginia mountains. Past years have given us iffy weather forecasts, but we’ve always pressed forward boldly and were rewarded for our heartiness with sunshine, crisp air, and vivid colors. As we inched closer to our dates, the forecast went form an ideal sunny and 70s to a not-so-balmy clear-and-50s—and then worsened every time I dared to look. Until the morning of our departure when I woke to a 100% chance of 2-4 inches of snow by nightfall and a 90% chance of icy rain the following day. Even I couldn’t envision an ounce of outdoor fun living in tents under those conditions.
Not wanting to give up, I scanned the weather reports, looking for someplace within a four hour radius with a more favorable forecast. But I saw the same forecast on every single screen. Icy rain. Wind. Snow. My mother-heart broke. I knew we couldn’t have the weekend I envisioned. It was impossible. I knew we could make a go of things at home, but that wasn’t the point—this was supposed to be a getaway—no screens, no reminders of unfinished chores, no temptation to clean, or work.
There had to be a way.
I called the state park reservation center and asked if there was an open cabin anywhere in the state. There wasn’t. But I didn’t cancel, yet. I just couldn’t.
I called back an hour later just in case some weekend cabin dweller had cancelled. And someone had. There was a perfectly-sized cabin open in a place I’d never heard of. And I took it.
We tossed our tents aside and replaced the space with a stack of board games.
We drove through chilling rain, but ended up with a roaring fire. Perfect for cooking camp foods.
And in the morning? We woke up to this:
And the only precipitation was the jewel-like droplets on the leaves for the previous evening's rain:
I believe in second chances. In grace and mercy and redemption in all things—even—perhaps especially, in the little ones.
Even when there’s a 90% chance of cold slushy snow, icy rain.
Even when you hear no the first time.
I choose to believe that if you look hard enough, you can always find a Plan B, and the unexpected joys that come with it. And for that, I will always be greatful.
An excerpt from my son’s entry in the cabin journal:
Today I am joining Sarah and the Bigger Picture Bloggers in celebrating little moments of gratitude