I was back at the field yesterday. It's a good distraction from the search for a better job, a more inspiring place to live, and a soul mate. Plus I get fresh air. I arrived in the middle of the afternoon, and after three hours, had cleared an inner sanctum in the middle of the forest. There was an old tree that had fallen across the stream.
I had intended to take the chain saw to it and pile it's parts up and out of the way, but the more I cleared the scrub from around it, the saplings and drifts of goldenrod, I realized how beautiful it looked and left it whole. I decided against an evening fire, preferring to hide in the dark and watch the crew change from day-beasts to night-beasts. I lit a cigar to keep the bugs away and watched the Sikorsky-like dragon flies run their sorties to snag dinner. Bats rolled and twisted higher up, dark like black satin, the birds quieted, and the spruces to the west posed still like a silhouetted back drop in some stage play. The moon was up, showing only half; bright though as if someone had ripped a hole through into daylight. Jupiter was nestled deep in the forest branches. I saw the space station pass and then decided, after the speed bump taste of my third cigar, that it was time for sleep.
I have a Hennessy Hammock instead of a tent. It's a hammock with a mesh cover, and then a separate fly that sits above it to keep you dry from dew and rain but it allows you to see what's going on around you. There is a velcroed access approximately half the length of the hammock along the bottom. You open the access and shove in your inflated, foam-filled Therm-a-rest pad that, ideally, is supposed to offer firmness to your sleeping experience. Sleeping bag goes in on top of this. There is a handy hanging pocket for keys, flashlights, whatever you need close by.
Sounds great, huh?
Well, it has been great in the past. Last night, I realized that my Therm-a-rest had a leak, and like a man in a state, could not stay stiff. Also, I did not have the contraption stretched out enough so I found myself sliding down towards the lowest sag-point, the bottom of the catenary curve. I would pull myself up, and then slide back down as if in some physical slapstick sketch worthy of Mr. Bean. Several times, I realized that my flaccid Therm-a-rest was off-centre and sliding out from under me. I raised my hips up in an attempt to reach underneath and pull the floppy no-show back to home position but ended up winding my sleeping bag around myself until it felt like I was wearing the lower half of a mermaid suit; I could barely move. In addition, with all of these Cirque-de-Soleil maneuvers, I was working up a sweat. I found the opening to my sleeping bag and threw a leg out, only to find the night breeze chilling, so I pulled my leg back in.
I repeated this routine over and over again. I did not sleep at all. I DID see a shooting star, and considered evacuating this ridiculous sleep-taco, which is a better name, watching the sky for a bit, then retiring to the back of the van which is what a person with sense would do, but I persisted. I heard something pad through and peruse the sleep-taco then leave. It could have been a rabbit, or a fox, or a Jehovah's Witness coming to call, then not. Shortly after, I heard light hooves approach, stop, then I heard the calf-like grunt of a deer. It turned and fled, and I think I heard deer-laughter.
The eastern sky began lightening. I was in the middle of another, adjust-everything-until-you're-sweating-or-you-pull-a muscle flourish, when I realized that the sleep-taco access was open and the Therm-a-rest was half out, making a droopy break for it.
Okay. I give! Enough already!
I grabbed my boots from deep down in the sleep-taco abyss and got the hell out. I threw the sleeping bag and Therm-a-disappointment in the van. I took the sleep-taco down as every mosquito in the county tucked into me for their breakfast. Moments later and a pint down, I was driving out towards the road. I HAD planned on staying for the day and over the next night, but I don't think using a chain saw on five minutes of sleep is something celebrated in any safety manual. Plus the bugs, and that derisive, Pan-ish laughter!
I was on the road before 6am, and basically solo. Most adults were still asleep in their non-taco, uber-comfortable beds. This was good because I did not have the stamina to navigate the cottage traffic gridlock that would manifest later. I put on some Bach and, came up over a hill to see the sun, full, and intense, and red like a hot stove burner! It was beautiful, and it was all mine! I spoke out loud about how grateful I was in that lovely, special moment. I felt full, and present, and keen to get my life back on track. I really was grateful. Life is such a gift.
...Then, I spent the remaining drive home, taking that very gift away from the blood sucking mosquitos that had stowed away in the van. Bastards all.
- Suzanne Crone