Friday, February 23, 2007

There and Back Again…

I awoke this morning to the first light of dawn. I unzipped my sleeping bag and glared at my watch as I squinted. 7:00 AM it read as I almost had to hold it to my face to read it. I then fumbled for my glasses as if I were caught in the darkest of nights without a light, or as if I were a blind man stumbling in an unfamiliar furniture filled room.

“Damn, I can’t see crap!” I muttered tersely to myself as my groping hand finally felt the cold metal of their frames. “I need to get that eye surgery done.”

Thus began my first morning camping out in quite awhile. I had forgotten how much I enjoy this pastime. I had also forgotten how much I love to leave behind the rigors of modern life for a much simpler existence; an existence that only a trip to woods can conjure within me.

I had stayed up late last night reading Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets. I marveled at how simply it was written, but so addicting to read. Each new chapter would arrive with a resolve from me to close the book and go to sleep.

It was well after midnight when I heard that mournful hoot of an owl far down in the woods below me. I finally closed the book as I took off my glasses, blew out my candle lantern, and lay there listening to the winter woods in the dark for the longest time. The owl hooted again with a plaintive call. In my mind, I could picture that owl sitting atop a branch, in the piney woods, with big blinking yellow eyes watching the forest floor for mice and other small moving and tasty edibles.

[Sleep arrived…]

I finally roused myself from my sleeping bag this morning and began breakfast after one of the most restful sleeps I had experienced in months. My little propane camp stove lit with a flare and a whoosh, and then hissed softly as a pot of water began to boil. I poured in the grits and added a dash of salt. There is a true art to good southern style grits I have learned over the years. Runny grits should only be found north of the Mason-Dixon Line. You want the consistency of a creamy, fine, thick porridge; a careful balance of water and ground corn.

As I sat eating my perfectly prepared grits from a plastic bowl with a plastic spoon, fog wafted off of the surface of our pond in the cool morning air and drifted down into the pine trees below the dam. Occasionally, the water would ripple in great expanding circles as a fish would break the surface. I longed to stay in this moment forever; forever serene, calm, and comforted.

With a heavy heart, I finally began to pack up my gear in my car and head for home. I knew my father would grow worried when he would find my car gone for more than a day. I drove home and away from God’s country as the brightly shining globe of the sun had risen high above the trees, almost blinding me as I drove east, prompting the use of my Honda’s visor; east towards home.

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Cheryl said...

How far do you have to drive to camp? Would you consider doing it more often? I'm so glad to hear it was a peaceful trip. Whenever I camp it's such a big production with all the equipment I take. I love how simply you can leave home.

Andrew said...

Hey Cheryl!!!

Good morning! :-) It is about a thirty minute drive to our pond and the hundred plus acres of land we own. 3 miles from my house is the countryside and the city limits. I live on the edge of a very rural area. I hope this finds you well.


PipeTobacco said...


In my opinion, you should think twice about either of the common eye surgeries. Both *can* "correct" vision... but both very commonly are associated with their own abberations due to imperfect changes to the curvature of the cornea after surgery. Eye glasses can be renewed and changed... and can be substituted for contact lenses. Surgery is permanent and cannot be reversed.

Did you indulge in your pipe while camping? If so, it would be very pleasant to hear of the experiences.


Augs Casa said...


I cannot tell you how many memories that brings back. I like to fancy myself an outdoorsman. I look forward to my first camping trip of the year. I am excited as you described what I dearly miss in your post.

Jess said...

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michael said...

A beautifully written piece. Here in Scotland, I am a teacher, and if the children in my class could write like you do, I'd be a very proud man.
As an aside, the photos on your other blog are very uplifting. We've had very mild weather here over the past couple of days; my wife was saying just this afternoon it felt like spring when she out with our two nippers earlier in the day, but by the time I got home, it was again cool. I am looking forward to seeing the daffodils out here though.

Gail said...

I so enjoy reading your posts. I find many of them soothing and refreshing. Many others give me gifts of thought.

Thanks for sharing your writings.


Marisa said...

What a beautiful description. Makes me want to pack up and go right now in the 20-degree weather. I'm glad I happened upon your blog.

austere said...

Lovely decription of dawn on the lake. Lovely.

austere said...

I can understand abt your camera. I work in a lovely modern office building that I have wanted to photograph often, but the road! More like a village track you'd navigate in a bullock cart, all potholes and jumps. Hence no camera, no shot.