As predicted, the children were stepping off the school bus on the last day of term when the rain began. The threatened hosepipe ban has been put on hold. The wood is again damp underfoot, the thirst of the badgers quenched and the drooping honeysuckle restored. But though refreshed, the wood has lost it’s youthful look. Tree leaves that were once delicate in vibrant spring green are now tough, thick and darkened, weathered and pock marked through mechanical and insect damage. The wood never stands still… and neither do my children. It is already half way through their summer holiday – more for Joe who only has two weeks left – and we have spent many of the good weather days (along with a couple of rainy ones) in the wood.
Most days at the woods are memorable for one reason or other, but I will remember this summer as ‘The summer we camped’, the summer we and Joe finally managed after twelve years to overcome sufficient barriers to allow our family to spend six (not always consecutive) nights out of doors in the wood. It wasn’t conventional camping exactly, and it wasn’t all stress free and easy. But it was us, in the wood, overnight. At the moment, I am still reeling from the exhaustion of it all – the day to day challenges of a carer embracing autism as part of family life. But I know, when I have the time and energy to reflect on the last few weeks, the enormity of what we have achieved will hit home. We dodged the raindrops, Joe slept on the trampoline, Peta, Melody and Amos know what it feels like to camp. We have moved on as a family, we pulled together and we managed. We have camped once – we can do it again.