When you exit I-25 at Las Vegas, New Mexico, drive through the town, and keep on driving, things get rural really fast. One minute you’re zipping north at 80 miles per hour; the next you’re doing 25 past forest-fringed fields dotted with horses and the occasional deer.
It’s pretty cool.
A group of us went camping not far from there last weekend. It was one of those trips that took weeks to come to fruition because of folks’ busy schedules, but at last it happened, and thank goodness. I think we all needed it. I know I did.
No matter what the season, a visit to the wilderness is medicine for me. It begins the moment I look around and realize I’m surrounded by trees, even if I’m still in the car. I start breathing more deeply. I stop worrying so much about how I look, whether I’m behaving “appropriately,” or getting enough things done. Mirrors aren’t handy and the chores of everyday life are miles away, so what’s the point?
Now I’ve written about hunting trips before – hunting carries its own fun, but camping for camping’s sake is different. No one needs to get up before dawn (unless they really want to), there’s generally less gear to mess with, and making a little noise is perfectly okay. Also, early hunts notwithstanding, the weather’s usually more pleasant.
Especially if your campsite has lots and lots of shade trees forming a lovely canopy over it, like ours did. Ahhhhh.
Both mornings of the weekend, my alarm clock was a combination of the sun, the dog doing her morning stretches, and the quiet stirrings of my fellow campers. True, someone at the next campsite over had a habit of chopping wood veeeery early, but it could have been a lot worse.
I sat in a camp chair, legs stretched out, and didn’t let myself worry about anything. I did what I could to help with meal preparation, but my biggest accomplishment? Learning how to whittle!
Okay, by “learning how to whittle,” I mean taking a stick and a knife, listening to some safety instructions from my husband, and then just going at it, happily if not very skillfully. It was slow, brain-quieting work. I found that I could talk to my friends and whittle at the same time, so I did.
IT WAS GLORIOUS.
Now I understand why people get into knitting and the like. It makes me want to keep a stick and a knife in my purse wherever I go.
Hmm…or maybe not.
Summer’s not over yet. Hopefully, I’ll go camping again. Everyone should. Find some place with trees, where you have to drive slowly. String up a hammock and actually lay yourself down in it. Sit still long enough that hummingbirds hover overhead. Build a campfire. Let your hair go unbrushed for a couple of days. Whittle something just because.
Just do it.