What’s a lazy camp anyway, aren’t all camps lazy? Well perhaps they used to be, today the hustle of life is so engrained in folks that they can’t settle into camp life. Dennis is wound up so tight from a demanding job that he sits in his chair fidgeting, looking around, and checking his phone for non-existent service. His phone is like an addiction apparently, it kills him not to know what’s going on. Dan and Barbara visiting from across the country are antsy, Barbara keeps looking at her watch, they have a busy itinerary for this trip, lots to see in the area each day, and they don’t want to waste a minute. Jeff’s kids want to play at the lake, but he had planned to drive down the canyon to a museum. Camp is a flurry of activity, no one is resting but me, and in a way, I’m kind of glad that everyone is leaving camp for the day, so I can have some peace, ha-ha.
I’m not saying camp is free from any form of work or activity, there is always wood to get for the campfire, meals to cook, dishes to wash, but that’s all enjoyable to me. I do try to make a healthy amount of nothin’ time, an example of this from a recent camp goes something like this.
I’m sitting here in my old grey camp chair, seems like I’ve had it forever. The edges are tattered, the arm does not stay secured anymore and every time I have to move it, the arm has to get reattached. There are a fair amount of pea sized burn holes in the seat, which I look at in a positive way, they let rainwater drain out. The fabric is so worn that is soft and cozy, like an old shoe, I like to be in it. My chair is my camp observation post, I find it easy to look around for hours.
A small chipmunk runs down the trunk of a large pine and across a fallen log, stopping every few feet and rearing up on his back legs takes a quick survey of the area, before scurrying on. A good number of little blue birds fly around camp, keeping an eye on things, their distinctive chirps fill my ears with pleasant sound. Turning my eyes towards the fire pit I discover a spider crawling in and out of the crevices in the rocks that make up the pit. I watch patiently for a while to see what he is up to.
Out of the corner of my eye I detect motion in the low brush that surrounds my camp, there, a few deer grazing on the new green grass, undeterred by my presence. I sit as motionless as possible and watch them for a while. They seem to have a rhythm to their activity, eating the grass, then popping their heads up they look around while chewing. Just fifteen feet away I stare at the eyes of one as if trying to peer into her mind so as to figure out what is going inside that head. Twenty minutes pass and they gradually graze away from my camp.
The chair is cozy, the temperature is perfect, a slight breeze blows, all this work observing has made me drowsy, I slide down in my chair till my head rests on the back and fall into a sleep. In about an hour I awake, groggy, I look around trying to get my bearings, a pretty good sleep for sitting in a camp chair! A few things stir in my mind and I recall I was going to work a bit on some camp improvements today. Staring across the fire pit I notice a young pine seedling not quite knee high, it’s location is not ideal for my camp, too close to the fire, too close to where I’m going to set up a bed. I marvel that this little seedling exists, all the old forest around has already given way, disease and insects have taken their toll. I discover a bit of inspiration from the little pine.
The little pine seedling grows quickly, summers are short up on the mountain. As I scan the forest around camp there are two things I could choose to see, the old fallen trees, and lament the great loss, or the new rising seedlings, like the one at camp, defying the odds, growing where the old trees have died. I can look at the fallen and say to myself, “look how tragic, all those majestic trees have died and crashed to the ground,” or I can say, “look how nature is refreshing itself, the old trees will rot and become soil providing new rich mulch for the future forest.” I can look with hope on the new trees, the future is fresh and alive, what beauty awaits in the decades to come.
Is my time wasted, sitting around camp in my chair? I think not, my eyes have seen, my nose has smelled, my ears have heard the sounds of camp. A memory has been created, which can be remembered, and relived at any time I choose. Put away your watch, throw out your schedule, be lazy at camp and enjoy the world.
Until next time, this is Perry Peacock, for “Simplifying Survival.”