My husband is one of the most optimistic people I know. Optimistic to the point (in my mind) of sometimes being a bit unrealistic. I, on the other hand, like to think I’m realistic and try to put a positive spin on things, but in his mind I foresee too many problems. Problems that will likely, according to him, never occur. Well, put it this way: I like to be prepared.
We went bush camping again the other day and, same as last year, we had the weather debate. According to the forecast there was a 50% chance of showers in that area. The thing is, a weather forecast is a relative thing. 50% in one area might not be the same as 50% somewhere else. In this particular area our past experience has been that if there is rain being forecast (no matter how small the chance), it will rain there. Well, that’s my assessment but my husband kept saying: “There’s only a 50% chance. That means there’s a 50% chance that it won’t rain.” And so we debated this point as we were driving along.
When we left Perth the skies were blue with not a cloud in sight. After about an hour and a half of driving it started clouding over and not long after that I was taking photos on my phone of the rain on the windscreen as we were driving. I went quiet (not wanting to be “too realistic”) and my husband glanced at me sideways, nervously. “It will clear up” he said.
It went on like this for a little while, with no sign of the rain abating. Ironman asked me if I regretted coming. Looking at the heavy, grey clouds I said: “No, but I did come against my better judgement” (teen my beterwete, in Afrikaans). (He latched onto that saying and used it over and over the entire weekend, teen my beterwete.)
The realist in me didn’t like camping in the rain when the kids were little, because there’s only so much you can do with toddlers couped up inside a tent when it’s pouring with rain outside. As the kids got older it wasn’t an issue anymore and I find it quite cosy when we’re inside our tent-house while it’s raining. As long as there are no tent malfunctions. Camping with swags in the rain is a bit of a different story though. (A swag is like a bedroll and a mini one man tent all in one. It’s set up like a tent, only much faster, and you get in and out at the top.) I absolutely love sleeping in a swag, when it’s not raining. You can sleep with the top zipped open under the stars. It always reminds me of a TV show I used to watch as a child. Afrikaans readers who grew up in the ‘70’s will remember Liewe Heksie (Dear Kind Little Witch) and her sterretjieskombuis (starry kitchen).
Anyway, we arrived at our camp site and it was still raining. We walked around looking for a spot to set up our swags and saw evidence of flooding all around us. I was doing my best to swallow my beterwete at this stage, hoping the weather would be better the following day. We’d come all that way, after all. We waited for a break in the rain and set up the swags. When we were just about done (that is after five minutes) it started raining again so we headed back to the campers’ kitchen, Ironman went mountain biking and I read my book. It pretty much rained the most of the day. I would call that a 50% chance of showers in the event there are clouds. And there were plenty of clouds.
It rained through the night, thankfully not very heavily, and we stayed dry inside our swags. By the following morning there were a few fleeting glimpses of blue sky and we decided to go for a hike. We know this hike quite well and the path is clearly marked so even if it’s overcast it wouldn’t be dangerous. Driving up to the car park we were lucky enough to see a full rainbow over the valley. I got out the car to take a photo and the howling wind made me want to change my mind about the hike, but my ever optimistic husband said: “Let’s go, it will be better once we’re closer to the mountain”. Against my better judgement again, we set off. Clouds came billowing down the mountain at great speed as the wind pushed them along, and then dispersed slightly but we were never able to see the summit. It wasn’t raining until later and we were treated to a beautiful hike in conditions we would normally stay indoors for. The path was wet and there were tiny rivulets of water running everywhere. Droplets were hanging off leaves and flowers and we were surprised by the number of people who were out there. In the end the clouds succumbed and the little drizzle that had started turned into full-on rain that wouldn’t stop. My husband didn’t have a rain jacket with him (there was only a 50% chance of showers) and was getting wet through so we decided to call it a day and turned back. We both enjoyed that hike so much, even though the conditions were less than perfect. We saw and experienced things we wouldn’t see in bright sunlight, and there’s something almost therapeutic about walking in the rain like that.
Late in the afternoon the rain cleared up and I got spoilt with a clear night and stars abundant when I got in my swag. Magical. It’s a sight I’ll never tire of. As we neared Perth the next day the skies were blue again and my husband piped up: “So are you happy you went then, against your better judgement?” with a teasing look in his eye. I knew where he was going with this and replied: ”Yes, but you’re lucky the weather didn’t get worse”. “I knew it wouldn’t”, he said, “there was only ever a 50% chance of showers”. “It was a gamble”, I replied with a smile, “and you’re lucky that it paid off”. “No it wasn’t a gamble” and so it went on and gets retold every time we’re asked about the weekend.
I suppose the same can be said for most things in life. Some of us are more realistic and others are very optimistic but sometimes it’s worth taking that gamble. You never know what surprises might lie in wait if you do.