Daughter of the Wilderness

Recently, I have been reading about camping and outdoorsy vacations fueled by a desire to feel closer to nature. Camping in the sense of carrying everything on your back as you trek through the woods, mountains, or along pilgrimage trails that cross borders of towns, states, or countries is probably one of the most minimalist activities a person can do. To carry strictly the bare essentials and sleep under the stars lulled to sleep by the repetitious buzzing and singing lullaby of cicadas and crickets evokes images of simplicity, ultimate self-sufficiency, and calm. I should be clear, this is not the kind of camping for which I have sought out information.

I confess I am guilty of typing, “Outdoorsy vacations for people who don’t like camping,” into my search engine. Perhaps I am more in search of “glamping” or maybe even just being a spectator into the activity. I crave the coziness of camping, which may, perhaps for me, live entirely in “the idea” of camping.

I imagine the warmth of the campfire cradling my cheeks, the air perfumed with the sweet, dry scent of wood ash and fresh coffee as embers glow like ruby fireflies floating towards the ground. Looking around my imaginary campfire, I see friendly faces of those I love most and those whose company I value, also enjoying the dream camping experience. They sip on hot coffee out of thermos cups, balancing plates heaped with camp stove sausages and potatoes. They are wrapped in sweaters, fleece, and jackets of all different colors and textures, their hands bundled in colorful, knit mittens and gloves to combat the crisp yet dewy chill of the morning air.

What a dream, huh?

While the idea of setting up and sleeping in a tent in the velvet dark of some forest campground is something I find somewhat terrifying (I’m a firm believer and active user of a night light and am not ashamed to say so), it is something I really enjoy reading about or emulating in experience by way of long walks in the woods. The peace that is born from the cacophonous quiet of the woods helps to clear my mind and put the worries away for a moment to make room for clarity and creativity. I really ought to bring a notebook with me on walks to document all the ideas that come to me, though perhaps that would detract from the immersive nature experience.

I can smell the damp green if I concentrate hard enough, can breathe in the minty pine and clean watery essence of ferns. I can feel the springy cushion of well-traveled dirt trails beneath my feet and can imagine the momentum of carrying myself through the trees, ears alert for the echo of owls, anxious tocking of woodpeckers, and tissue box-guitar strums of flirtatious frogs.

So maybe I’m not the “daughter of the wilderness” that I hold up on a self-sufficient, nature-goddess pedestal. That’s okay. I’m very happy being the daughter of my parents and to take in the joys of the camping experience via abbreviated treks through the wilderness or from the comfort and shelter of the roof over my head and the walls around me, which I feel so lucky to have.

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