Sunday, June 7, 2015

Call of the wild

"The wilderness and the idea of wilderness is one of the permanent homes of the human spirit." — Joseph Wood Krutch, American writer, critic, and naturalist

WE STILL laugh about it. 


The first summer Paul and I were together we were out for a walk in the neighborhood, a familiar bit of landscape, when I stopped dead in my tracks on the sidewalk mid-block on Logan Street and said with urgency, "I want to go camping." 


Paul thought that sounded like a fine idea. "Okay. When do you want to go?"


"Now," I said.


"Now?!" he said in disbelief.


And no wonder; it was 7:00 in the evening. "You don't mean NOW, as in right now." 


I did.


He made a reasonable, rational argument about the lateness of the hour especially given that first we had to walk back home (that held no sway with me since that would be ten minutes at most) and then dredge up the camping gear, pack up and drive somewhere half an hour away at minimum to find a campground.


None of these seemed like obstacles to me!


Of course not! I wasn't the one who would have to do the gathering, packing and driving, and naturally, I didn't have any idea about where to go to find a place to camp.


Love, lust, devotion, insanity or some combination as the motivating factor, Paul said, "Well okay then, but it's going to be dark by the time we get there."


I was undeterred. 


We marched back home, gathered the gear and loaded the car.


Paul said he knew of a park that was not very far, a favorite little-used county park that had a perfect, small nook of a camping spot, and there was never, ever anyone there.


We drove to the park, and as he astutely predicted, it was full on dark-night (the grandmother who raised me used that hyphenated, two-word description as a cautionary explanation as to why there would be no more playing outdoors on a given evening past a certain time. "No you can't go outside again. It's dark-night.")


Yes, it was pretty much pitch black by the time we arrived at the park. But not to worry, this camping spot was a very short walk in. 


And so it was, but for the first time in all the times Paul had been there, the area was occupied by a large family group complete with tents and a campfire. We stumbled along a
s best we could 
in the (very) dark-night on what felt like a trail, on past where we had hoped to camp, stubbing our toes and tripping until we found a widened out, flattish spot where the vegetation felt sort of smoothed down, and I said, "How about here."


Paul set up our little two-person pup tent in the dark, and we crawled in and went to sleep.


Barely dawn, we were awakened by snorting, stamping and an extremely pungent, musky smell. We had pitched our tent in a deer bed, and a buck was none too happy with us for being there. We kept still, and after a few breathless moments, Mr. Buck moved on.


We were too tired to do anything but go back to sleep, and we slept till the sun was high and warm in the sky.





I've asked Paul if that night was the point in our relationship when it first occurred to him that I was going to be a lot of trouble. 


He laughs. I laugh, but I feel sheepish (or in this case deer-ish) about that little adventure, and I wonder again that he didn't run away fast when he discovered what an impetuous woman he'd hooked up with. I've kept him entertained at least. There's that.


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