Everyone should have an unchanging place. A place where time has no hold, where memories can flourish EXACTLY as you remember them. A place where the laughter of childhood resonates through your veins the very moment you arrive. Some people are lucky in that their parent’s home can be this unchanging place, if they have been in the same home for a long time. Even then, it is hard because rooms get painted and bathrooms get remodeled. It is hard to find your unchanging place, especially with the way that modern society chews up places and spits out “new” all the time.
My unchanging place is Jewell Lake National Forest Campground. My family used to camp there for our yearly vacation when I was younger. I did not know at the time, but it was because it was so cheap that we did it, my family being on the south end of middle class at the time. What mattered to me was going fishing with my father, playing on the beach with my brother, running along the paths making up kingdoms to defend all week and coming back to the campsite and having my smiling mother dish me out a big bowl of Dinty Moore Beef Stew. I thrived at Jewell Lake.
I have returned as an adult twice to this place. My Wife and I have gone camping there a couple of times over the past three years. Every time, I get ridiculously giddy as we approach, and of course I have a personal preference for a particular campsite, it was the one we always camped at when I was a child. Jewell Lake is truly an unchanging place.
When I step out of the car, I feel as if I have a truly intimate relationship with the soil. The paths are still all the same. The same berries the Rich and I use to throw at each other grow along the same path between the beach and the boat launch. The water is still pumped by hand, and the sites still have no electricity. I take a big deep breath, slowly let it out, and know that I feel more at home here then even my own home. A sly smile creeps over my face, and I check to make sure we brought the giant can of Dinty Moore.
(Yes, that beautiful picture is at Jewell Lake, which you can enjoy for $15 a night…amazing the treasures we have all around us)