The Nomads

by Sylvie O'Rourke

We have scored the campsite at Presqu’ile Provincial Park with the open view of Lake Ontario and an adjacent more sheltered lot for our friends. This short-term transition to nomadic living is a wonderful way to unwind and enjoy everything nature has to offer.

In this land of leisure, we can expect transient neighbours. I’m normally too busy to pay them much heed, but for some reason this time is different. Our first nearby tent-dwellers arrive after dark, and I don’t notice they have moved in until we return from our friends’ campfire. My first glimpse is of an illuminated pair of bulging eyes framed by a mop of disheveled hair with arms flapping wildly. It is both comical and puzzling. Through bits of conversation, I come to realize that the trio is sampling some type of hot peppers. As I dive into my sleeping bag, I can appreciate the soothing sound of the waves which help muffle the sounds of our adjacent nighthawks.

Just as the weather is fickle, the nomads must rove, and we soon find ourselves with new neighbours, this time a quiet book-reading couple relaxing in the shade. The wind blowing off the lake shows no sign of abating and by nightfall has risen to gale-like proportions. Even on our more sheltered campfire site, we struggle to hold a group conversation. Between the sound of crashing waves and the whooshing in our ears, we can barely decipher the words of the person immediately next to us. Our tents will be flapping tonight!

Early the next morning, we are surprised to see our barely arrived neighbors packing up their truck. It turns out that the departing campers have a son who once worked here as a park ranger. They chose a lakeside lot at his recommendation because they were assured that the white noise from the wind on Lake Ontario would provide a most restful sleep. Unimpressed with that assessment, he assures me that it was “just loud.” I guess he will have some choice words for his son upon his return. If only he had been here one night sooner, he might have had a different experience.

The transient site visits do not end there; We return from our cycling excursion to find a new couple setting up camp. Unlike their predecessors, they appear to be settling in for a longer stay. The kitchen tent seems equipped to provide gourmet camping meals. I also notice that their screened tent is solidly tied to the trees as extra precaution against the wind. That night, tired from our day’s activities, we quickly fall asleep to the lulling sounds of the waves and a much tamer wind. However, late in the night we are ripped from our slumber by screeching and growling sounds. It seems that our neighbours have made a rookie mistake by storing their food in their kitchen tent. This proves to be an irresistible feast for resourceful raccoons. There is much commotion next door involving flashlights, chasing intruders away, and mid-night cleaning. Despite the salvageable food being relocated to the vehicle, the masked and dexterous bandits come back time after time to scrounge for any remnants that might have been missed. No degree of wind can block the sounds of these mischievous and opportunistic gluttons.

Day Three brings about another relocation, this time our own. It is time to roll up our sleeping bags and pull out the tent pegs. I can’t help but wonder if now that the roles are reversed, we are the objects of curiosity. What impression have we made during our short stay? Like it or not, our nomadic interlude has come to an end, but someday in the not-too-distant future we will be back for another brief respite.

Published in the Cornwall Seeker, 2 in 1 Flip Magazine,, December 2021, Page 15

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