The sun announces its morning rise into the sky with rays of ripe yellow. The light illuminates the green undergrowth along the floor of the forest. I did not come to the woods to live deliberately. I’m not certain anyone can do that anymore. So much of going to the woods has become an overpopulated trip that requires reservations in order for one to pitch their tent.
So perhaps I have reserved my right to come to the woods and live visitor-ly. Reserved the right to take part in the sacred ritual that has become camping. A ritual overrun by Pinterest ideas for the best camping hacks. A ritual inundated by signage hanging from fifth wheels and tent trailers and motorhomes promoting the idea of relaxing because you’re “camping”.
I biked around the well-preserved woods and caught glimpses of t-shirts that prompt life is better over a campfire, Happy Campers and camping hair, don’t care. When did camping become a culture? Maybe it always has. The move to go west young man, to go see the USA in your Chevrolet or to find your place on the open road…all of it came before kitchy t-shirts declared a person’s sense of self. So perhaps it’s always been a culture.
And I buy into it. I need the culture. I came to the woods in an attempt to breathe a little deeper and turn off some of the world and be wild among the others attempting to be wild themselves.
I came to the woods to be baptized in the chilly lake water.
I came to be purified by campfires made of five dollar bundles of firewood.
I came to drink the sun into my skin through a fine layer of SPF 70.
I came to enrich my spirit through a rented kayak.
The whole time I traipsed through my rented journey I photographed the wonder in order to make sure I remember it happened. (If an experience is had while camping in the forest and no one photographed it and placed it on social media…did it make a noise?)
I impose myself on the throng of life teeming among the pseudo wilderness. I greedily soak up the beauty. I gorge myself on glowing sunlight and the way it plays among the trees and the forest floor. The twitter of birds, the chirping chipmunks, the rummaging of foxes is my personal chorus. I trap the light of the midnight moon in my memory. I gorge my soul on the feast until I am over fed, over loaded, overwhelmed and finally made whole.
Rented or not, I came to the woods to duct tape my soul back in place for as long as it lasts.