Sunday, July 06, 2008

Refreshing

This year, we celebrated our nation's birthday with Snacky D by enjoying our nation's wilderness via a backpacking trip through Quebec Run Wild Area. This was my first extended trip using the fabulous stuff we got for our wedding, and I can't imagine enjoying it more. I don't know why it's so enjoyable to load 30 pounds of stuff on your back and teeter through the woods, trailing your stubby legs miles behind your lanky husband and his equally lanky pal, but it just is.

After several hours, my body just couldn't go on any further. The humidity was such that a low fog hung in the air, the wetness clinging to everything and making even the insides of my ears damp and gross. I needed to stop. Snacky spotted an amazing camp site right by the creek, with a fire ring and lots of trees for hammocks. I threw down my purple monster pack, unlaced my boots, and scampered into the freezing water.

The euphoria I felt when I resurfaced was like no other I've ever experienced. My body was so tired that even my skin ached, but the water numbed my feet and aching muscles and the cold woke up each pore. The water was so crisp and clear and I was so hot and tired I just sort of gave in and submerged myself. The relief of not moving anymore combined with the mist hanging over the water made a really magical image. I stood knee deep in the current, shivering in cold and some other sort of wonder. That moment with just the three of us in the water, miles away from industry or even the sounds of motors or idling computers--that was one of the most fortunate moments of my life so far.

This morning, I had quite the opposite experience when we finished our excursion at a place called Ed's Diner. Even the ceiling tiles drooped in despair in this joint, where a man seated behind me chewed the end of a cigar and I worried every second that he would light it and make my head explode. The food at Ed's was pretty good (meatloaf and mashed potatoes for me!) but the atmosphere in there, from the aged television blaring bad country videos to the fat man with gross, homemade tattoos smoking a cigarette with his meal three stools away from me, just reminded me of the depressed region and the obesity crisis.

So I want to forget about Ed's and remember instead the red lizards that scuttled in front of us all weekend, or the way the water glugged over the big stones in the creek and lulled me to sleep last night. Or even Corey telling me my hat was embarrassing when I tried to hug him in Get-Go. I feel like I understand why Hemingway's Nick Adams would take to the woods immediately upon returning from war. Like Adams, when I went out there I "felt [I] had left everything behind, the need for thinking, the need to write, other needs. It was all back of [me]," and instead there were just the three of us and nothing but more path in front of our feet, and the sense that when you got somewhere, you really accomplished something wonderful.

3 comments:

PeaceLoveMath said...

Not a lizard (which would be a reptile) but an Eastern Red-spotted Newt (an amphibian)! See here:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eastern_Newt
Great pictures on your photo site!!! Sleeping in a hammock is such a wonderful idea. I bet I would hurt less than after sleeping on the ground. You do such cool stuff!

ninny said...

did you use your gorilla tripod to take the pics?

Em said...

I've seen those newts before. Aren't they the coolest?!