I Stood by the River

I decided to temporarily try out a certain aspect of retirement — living in a campground.

By Jonah Kondro

I decided to temporar- ily try out a certain aspect of retirement — living in a campground. Arizona accepts Canadian snow birds for six months out of every year. I needed to know what the romance of semi-transient life was like, but not in Arizona: I wear black denim and black cowboy boots — Arizona’s climate would boil my blood off. Staying in the Lion’s Campground in Red Deer sure seemed like it could be something I would enjoy though.

The Old Man lent me his gypsy caravan (holiday trailer). It’s nothing special; but the awning works, the toilet flushes, and it has cool fridge for a few bottles of beer — everything a man needs. I used the caravan for a couple of days of weekend camping, with the boys, before checking into the Lion’s for a week in RD.

It’s not exactly remote, nor was it a private location. Certain loops of the Lion’s campground were only missing the yellow lines of a parking lot. But I was about slingshot distance away from the river. Only a chain-linked fence and bike path separated my boots from the river’s edge.

While I was there I wanted to stand by the river for a little while during one evening. There have been several occurrences when I’ve been traveling and sat by the Atlantic or Pacific Oceans. Standing by the Red Deer River doesn’t hold up against some of the personal moments I’ve spent by some majestic bodies of water, but I got what I needed near the turbid currents of the mighty Red Deer.

Literature, film, lyrics, and folklore use rivers symbolically to represent the flow of life. I don’t like to think of my life as a river. A river flows in one direction. I like to think of my life as an ocean. An ocean doesn’t have a direction or a path — it just covers instead of following the edges of the banks. You don’t get a break from life to stand on the river’s edge to analyze its flow. A life worth living is spent thrusting over the white caps of the crashing ocean waves. Respite comes near the end when one is washed up on the shore of a beach while clutching a corked bottle holding the scroll mapping out the path to sunken treasure.

I put in my two-week notice, prior to checking into the Lion’s campground, from the job that paid me. A set of wrenches can pay the bills faster than an old Royal typewriter can, however, my life doesn’t flow like a river. I want to cover everything.

There is a few weeks this summer where I plan on riding my motorcycle and visiting a little old place, in the Cypress Hills, called Sturgis. After my fast and loose motorcycle mission concludes, there will be a full course load at the Red Deer College waiting for me in the fall.

Don’t ask me how I intend to pay for my role as the prodigal son — I may have to live in the Old Man’s caravan beside the Bluffton Pond. Who has time to work when there is an ocean of life to sail through?

 

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