In the wild spaces, cell phones are rendered useless and clocks become irrelevant. Communication is side by side or face to face. Emoticons do not exist. Stickers are spiny green plants that cling to your pants if you wander too far in the woods.
In the wild spaces, you have to shake off the unease with silence. You listen to what sounds like nothing, and realize you are wrong. Nothing turns into birdsong and wind, mosquito buzz and the creaking of trees.
In the wild spaces, you think in terms of survival. What to drink. When to eat. Where to sleep. There is contentment in the elements of this cycle, and a simple joy in passing the time between. To swim. To paddle. To fish. To doze.
In the wild spaces, you find confidence and humility to be necessary bedfellows. Believe in your ability to do what needs to be done, but defer always to the Creator, who knows best. Trust that sometimes lakes will be calm, reflective as glass. Other times, they will spit and splash, and heave dark waves at the bow of your canoe. Everything depends on your response.
In the wild spaces, you are allowed to be unreachable. This is a peculiar sort of relaxation, a quick cut, knife to rope. It is hard at first, and your hands might twitch. Guilt might whisper behind one hand. This is okay. Move on. Filter and boil your water, and take a moment to watch how the heat-streaming bubbles look like strings of pearls. You may have never noticed this if someone distracted you.
In the wild spaces, you eat simply. There is no boredom in this. Hunger is the best seasoning, the freshest herb.
In the wild spaces, you do not fear water or dirt. Shoes get wet. Pants bear evidence of kneeling and sitting on what nature offers. All of this means nothing, as long as your body can still function.
In the wild spaces, you contemplate the meaning of the word wild. Crazy. Erratic. Untouched. You look around and see none of this. Order exists in how the trees grow. Life bears evidence of cycle and routine. Rocks pile and smash on top of one another, as though moved by a gigantic hand. Wild takes on new meaning. Beauty. Concord. Wonder.
2 thoughts on “In the Wild Spaces”
Gorgeous, especially “Hunger is the best seasoning, the freshest herb.” I used to camp in the BWCA/Quetico when I was younger, and I remember how hunger was singular, simple, and perfectly satisfied.
Mark, you’re right. It doesn’t matter if it’s beef jerky and dried apples. It’s food and it’s exactly what you need. Hope you can make it back to the BWCA sometime!