Family camping is hard when you arrive to your campground in the rain. On our first camping excursion in Canada, at a park called Awenda, we sat in the car and made the plan for most efficient tent-set-up in the dreary drizzle. The five of us piled out of the car and did a passable job, without tempers rising too badly. Then what?
We sat under our green kitchen tarp, strung between thin trees over a wooden picnic table. Boring. We were card-gamed out and the drive had used up all our word games. So we decided to go for a walk to scope out the place, even in the unceasing misty damp. We set off to find the lake.
Lake Awenda was carved out of the earth by an ancient glacier. It is hard, at home or in a classroom, to imagine the immense ripping force of an ice sheet thousands of feet deep, making its creaky so slow path down from North to South. When you see a lake, it doesn’t convince you. But when you see the debris the glacier left behind, you start to imagine.
The shores of the lake are all cobbles. Cobbles as in cobble-stone streets. They are fist sized rocks or larger, rounded and smoothed by their time spent crashing and bashing and grinding with all the rock material being dragged by the glacier for thousands of years. There was no sand, no soil, just a beach of large round rocks.
Walking on large, smooth and now wet rocks makes for tricky footing so our eyes were down a lot. And we started to notice…
… this rock was gray, this one black, this one brown, this one brick-red. This one was speckled with green, white and pink. This one glinted with sparkly bits. This one was striped in bone, red and gray. This one was black with a crystalline white lightning-bolt stripe. The variety was incredible. We started to pick out our favorites, to stash a few in the corners of the car to take home and keep.
Laden, we got back to our camp, made a mac and cheese, hot dog and and s’more dinner, and went to bed. Thankfully, the morning was clear. Eagerly, we set out to the lake again.
To find our magical beach of many colors and splendid, surprising designs was gone. Oh, the rocks were there. But they were all gray, matte and dull. Because, of course, they were dry.
I often remember our Awenda adventure. How by venturing out in the wet we discovered the fantastic array of glacially mixed minerals. And of course I realize that if we had only gone there in “good weather”, we would have never thought it such a special place. For me, Awenda has become both a geology lesson and a parable to use in my life.