Sunday, July 27, 2014

Communing with trees.

You would think that a person who got back from a vacation in New Mexico less than a month ago would have cured her wanderlust for a while, wouldn't you?

Yeah, well, you would be wrong. I had a yen to go camping this weekend. So yesterday morning, I packed up and went.

I can't remember whether I've mentioned it here before, but I grew up in the woods. The house where I spent my childhood is in a hardwood forest -- oak and maple, mostly, with some tulip poplars and sassafras -- about five blocks from Lake Michigan. I think part of the reason why the Southwest fascinates me is that the sky is so big, the view so unhindered. That's very different from the leaf-rimmed circle of sky I saw above our yard as a kid. And our trees were tall; it wasn't until I moved to Virginia and saw tulip poplars in bloom that I realized they have flowers.

These days, I live above the tree tops, on the eighth floor of an apartment building. But sometimes you just need to get under them. This weekend was one of those times.

When I tell people that I'm going camping, I usually get one of two reactions. Either they say, "Ooh, now I want to go camping," or they look at me as if I've grown another head: "You're going to voluntarily give up air conditioning and indoor plumbing, and go out in the wilds to sleep with the bugs? No, thank you."

Bugs don't scare me. Not even bees -- not since the time I went camping with my daughter's Junior Girl Scout troop. A bee flew into our camp, and predictably, several of the girls did the shriek-and-run thing. I had just got done giving them the approved leaders' response to that sort of behavior -- "The bee's not going to hurt you; it just wants to see whether you're a flower" -- when a bee landed on my arm, and I had to sit there calmly until it decided I wasn't a flower and flew away. Sometimes, the Universe has a rotten sense of humor.

Anyway. At one point a few years ago, I thought I would get into backpacking. So I bought a bunch of ultralight gear -- a solo tent, a backpacker's stove, an internal frame pack, and so on. I went backpacking exactly twice and realized it wasn't going to be my thing. But the gear does make for compact loads when I go car camping.

Chez Cantwell at Prince William Forest Park.
Here's a shot of my camp from yesterday afternoon. What you see is what I brought. The canvas bag on the right holds food, and the white blob on the far end of the table is a jug of water. That's my tent in the back -- the door is at the far end, facing away from the camera.

The weather forecast was iffy, but I came prepared with a rain jacket. Unfortunately, I didn't stake out the tent properly, and the several hours of rain we had overnight made a puddle inside my tent. So this morning, I packed up and came home. I've spent the rest of the day drying out all my muddy, wet gear. (Thank the gods I brought the solo tent; there wouldn't have been enough room in this apartment to pitch the three-person tent.) There's now leaf mold everywhere, which I need to vacuum up. And I've had to dispatch a couple of hitchhikers of the insect variety.

But hey, I had a lovely night in the woods last night, sleeping under the trees. And I fully expect to have a lovely night at home tonight, with my air-conditioning and my indoor plumbing -- once everything dries out so I can put it away.

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These moments of great outdoor blogginess have been brought to you, as a public service, by Lynne Cantwell.
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