When my friends came over and saw my tent pitched in the library, they asked who was going camping, and they laughed when I said it was none other than yours truly. Admittedly, it’s been about 8 years since I camped, but although most people know me as a decidedly indoor girl, I was a Girl Scout, and I have the merit badges to prove it. I can camp, dammit!
The tent was set up in my house because I needed to see if it was still camp-worthy. And whether I still knew how to put it together. It was, with the judicious use of duct tape in a few spots, and the practice run of putting the tent up was satisfactory enough that I will not be the laughingstock of the camp; I will, in fact, look like I’ve pitched a tent before.
At 3 o’clock this afternoon, the car will be loaded and I’ll head west, and then north to the backside of the Catalinas and join a group of folks in Peppersauce Canyon, supposedly so-named because some prospector had his Tabasco or some such stolen there. I have been amazed at the sheer volume of crap I had to pull together and pack for a 2-night camping expedition, but this ain’t the KOA, and there will be no quick run to anything approaching civilization if I forgot something. I cannot even imagine preparing to join a wagon train west and planning for all your needs for stuff and food for months; I certainly couldn’t fit it all in my Hyundai, which will be chock-full as it is, because I’m bringing my guitar.
Once I arrive, I will turn off my phone and throw it in the glovebox, because it won’t work out there anyway. I’ll be far away from my laptop. (And if you call or text or e-mail in the meantime, you will not hear back from me until Sunday afternoon at the earliest.) And I will break out in hives to be so unplugged; but after the itching stops, I know it’s going to be good for me. While I love my creature comforts, I have a deep appreciation for hearing nothing but the sounds of birds and the wind in the trees and the crackling of a campfire. I love being far away from the city lights and being able to see all the stars that are missing from my sky in town. I like listening to the night with only a sleeping bag and a thin layer of nylon between me and it.
You know how, when you’ve not been eating well, you get a serious craving for salad and vegetables? I get that way when I’ve been indoors with my screens and gadgets and the omnipresent hum of electricity for too long; I crave dirt beneath my feet and open sky above my head, and the touch of trees and tall grasses as I walk. I need to be among mountains and trees and boulders, things that have been here ages longer than I have, things that will still be here when I’m gone.
I had it on my mental list to charge up my Kindle so I could spend some time reading, and decided instead to bring a book that’s been sitting on my nightstand for months, Women Who Run with the Wolves. I read it the first time 11 years ago or so, and it changed my life; my copy has dozens of Post-it flags littering the pages edges, and more pages yet that are dog-eared when I ran out of flags. It’s been a long, strange trip between that first reading and now, and I think it’s probably well past time to revisit those lessons, and see what new ones I can learn from it with whatever new perspective and insights I’ve gained in the meantime. And it doesn’t require batteries.
Neither does my notebook, nor the pens I’m bringing in the hopes of writing a poem, or maybe a song, or maybe both. Neither does my guitar. For 2 1/2 days, these will be my only toys, my only distractions, beyond getting acquainted with my fellow campers, most of whom I do not actually know. I’m going to be forced to slow down, to focus, to breathe, and to do something totally different.
I can’t wait.