Into the Wild

This weekend was sort of a bust with running, thanks to a nasty summer cold, but I had already run my normal number of times that week before this thing hit me. Regardless, the bbq yesterday was wonderful–sitting beneath sunny to starry skies with a couple mint juleps (made from lemon-mint from the garden and Maker’s Mark–nothing will work but good Kentucky bourbon). I have a fondness for bourbon, given that Kentucky is my birth state and my ancestors migrated there from Scotland, Ireland, Germany, and Norway. A good bourbon is the only whisky I will even drink these days, even though I hardly drink much hard liquor. I reserve it for once in a blue moon.

The couple (Ross & Dara) we had over are ones that I’ve personally known for about a decade or more. My husband has known Ross since junior high, so they go even further back. They are very pleasant people who share my dreams of getting the heck out of the city and into the wild. They give no shits about fashion, upward mobility, or pretenses. They simply are, which is very nice for a change. They are also the friends we are camping with next weekend, so it was nice to plan and dream about the trip, including the idea of getting up at dawn and watching the sunrise from a canoe in the middle of a pink-tinged glassy lake.

Speaking of going into the wild, Jon Krakauer, who wrote the book that the film (Into the Wild) was based on, is one of my favorite nonfiction authors. I had previously read Into Thin Air, about Mt. Everest mountaineers and climbers. I should point out that going into the wild often includes an assortment of cluttering accessories, which, in my opinion, may overcome you if you truly just want to get out there. I strongly feel that where we go into the wild, we should leave nothing but our footprints. When I think of oxygen tanks strewn over big mountains or man-made debris left in space, I want to sink. According to Wiki: As of July 2013, more than 170 million debris smaller than 1 cm (0.4 in), about 670,000 debris 1–10 cm, and around 29,000 larger debris are in orbit. Also, according to Outdoor Conservation (EU), there are up to 8 tonnes of oxygen tanks on Mt. Everest.

I remember the last time we went camping, we basically filled up our car with sleeping bags, a tent, big cooler, big jug of water, propane stove (we weren’t sure about a fire ban but ended up being able to start fires), dried foods, running clothes and shoes, regular clothes, and a foamie. When we left, there was not any evidence we had been to the campground at all. We even gave our leftover firewood to neighbor campers. But we also learned that we didn’t need quite as much food or clothing as we thought–so this time we will be more diligent.

I guess as days go by my dreams become more solid, though they may not take place until I retire: a cottage in the woods, a place for undisturbed writing–and I mean undisturbed by technology, news, and so on. My time on this Earth is probably in its autumn or late summer, if we go by Frank Sinatra lyrics, and I look forward to shrugging off society (as it were) by getting into a wilder world. Yet, I still want to read, write, and study our relationships to nature, both in literature and in real life.

The film and book Into the Wild show that dream of a much younger man, who was disillusioned with society. I get it. How is it possible to be happy with the concept of power, greed, fashion, growth, consumerism, environmental destruction, which is all big nations’ model for being. I don’t walk around cynical about it, but I often question it and work with what makes sense to me–forests, rivers, wildlife, fresh air–to truly feel alive and look around me to be able to say “Life is great!”

Feature image: This is not Mt. Everest. My husband took the photo overlooking Mt. Baker.

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