In the Wilderness, in the wilds. Far off the beaten path and miles away from any small town. Away from cell phone service, traffic, indoor plumbing and electricity. That’s a good place to be. Even for just a little while.
I sit with my morning coffee at ditch camp and scan the open valley for signs of life. Chances are good I will see the mama and baby moose, a few elk, and a passing deer. An abundance of birds and wildflowers! But no people. No signs of people. I look for a drift and ripple of smoke rising from possible camp sites across the open meadow along and in the trees. Even now, in “peak season,” we see hardly any tell-tale signs of human life.
There are few people here. I suppose this should come as no surprise. It’s far away here, far from cities, from roads, from cell phone service and fast food joints. And far, too, as my boys like to point out regularly, from “the crime, the heat, the pigeons…” (Are pigeons really so bad?) Here, so far from it all, so free from the noise and traffic, so distant from the crowds and hustle and bustle.
Yet we hear it is “inconvenient.” It is hard to get here, and once here, a little hard to be here. One must live without the constant communications, blackberries and i-phones, hair dryers, stores, restaurants, trash bins, bathrooms, beds… One may have to give things up to get here, to be here.
In a world so crowded, where over population is the norm, such wild and vast spaces are the exception. But they do exist. We can not forget. They are here; I am grateful every day I stop work and look around and hear the wind and birds and creek, and see nothing but a natural and untamed world around me.
Yes, I’m dirty. I look down at my hands wrapped around my enamel cup filled with steaming coffee for warmth in the early morning chill. The skin is wrinkled and sun worn, the palms littered with calluses; soot covers my hands and is seemingly a permanent fixture under my short finger nails. I’ve been working the dirt in the same pair of jeans for four days now. My hair and clothes smell strong of wood smoke and I’ve come to ignore most crawling bugs sharing the tent with us at night.
And you know what? It is the price to pay and I gladly pay it. I wouldn’t trade this for “the heat, the crime, the pigeons.” Can we give these things up, even for just one night, to be out here? Or will we give up on these wilds?