“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.
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.