Nature In the Raw

I don’t often get true adventures any more because my life is quite tame. I get the day-to-day adventures, of course, such as getting up in the morning (it’s not something everyone can do), or going out to shovel snow, or seeing the changes in my yard during the different seasons. But compared to the adventures I once had, such as hiking in the woods or taking long road trips, my adventures are small.

I certainly don’t deal with nature in the raw very often, generally out of laziness. I mean, when the weather gets wild (and yes, weather is considered nature), I could go outside but . . . well, I don’t.

Walking to and from work is the one time where I go out no matter what the weather is. For a while, I got to walk in the dark (well, quasi dark — there are plenty of streetlights between our two houses, and I carried a flashlight for the darkest nights), and I truly enjoyed that. I don’t drive at night, and I generally don’t like going for a walk in the dark, and being out in the dark in the summer is more “nature” than I want to deal with. Too many mosquitoes! Though maybe, before the mosquitoes come this summer, I’ll spend some dark time out in my yard.

Last night was a treat, a real adventure, short though it may have been. We got a huge amount of snow, and it was COLD! The women I work for wanted to drive me home, and were almost insistent, so I agreed, but when I got outside, I simply could not forgo the small adventure of walking home in the crackling cold. The temperature was close to zero, and what appeared to be a few flurries of snow was actually the humidity in the air freezing.

It was lovely — so quiet and still, with only the muffled sound of an occasional vehicle in the distance.

There will come a time, I am sure, when I couldn’t trust that I would be okay even for such a short time in extreme weather, so I especially enjoyed last night’s experience of nature in the raw.

***

What if God decided S/He didn’t like how the world turned out, and turned it over to a development company from the planet Xerxes for re-creation? Would you survive? Could you survive? Would you even want to?

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Feeding My Adventurous Spirit

I always walk home from work, even now when it’s dark and the roads are slick from snow. To my surprise, it doesn’t worry me. In fact, I enjoy the small adventure of making my way home in the wilds of this town.

The “wilds” part is just me being facetious. The trek is but two city blocks with street lights. Still, I am alone out there, which adds to the enjoyment. I stop, look up at the sky, look around, listen, feel the chill air, take deep breaths. Sometimes I imagine myself in the wilderness as if I had taken that winter backpacking trip I had once (briefly) considered taking. Mostly I just enjoy the moment.

Not so oddly, this adventure of mine does worry other people.

It’s nice to have people concerned about me, but it’s also a bit amusing. As I’ve been explaining to various folks who think I’m doing something inordinately dangerous by making this brief trek, I have often gone adventuring on my own.

I hiked in the mountains alone. I hiked along beaches alone. I hiked in forests alone. I camped alone. I backpacked alone. I took a cross-country trip alone, going from coast to coast and back again. I took an upcountry road trip alone, going almost from Mexico to close to Canada. Many times I took a half-country trip, from California to Colorado, making the trip so often, in fact, that those roads are very familiar to me.

Even though people flat out told me I couldn’t do each of these things alone (not “shouldn’t” as in a suggestion, but “couldn’t” as is in an order), I went about my merry way. If I had waited for someone to accompany me on any of my various adventures, big or small, I wouldn’t have been able to go anywhere. Looking back, my adventures seemed blessed. The problems I had were minor and easily fixed — a dead battery, a cracked fuel line, a broken speedometer — but even if there had been larger issues, I would have dealt with them.

Now that I have a home, I tend not to travel far, so currently my biggest adventure is that two-block hike in the snow at night.

I’m not stupid — I am cognizant of my age, the weather, and the conditions of the road. I wear waterproof, non-skid hiking boots in the snow and I use my Pacer Poles to help me navigate the icy areas. I also have pepper spray, though since it’s in my bag, it wouldn’t do me much good if I needed it. Besides, I need both hands for the poles. I also have a phone, and all along those two blocks, I get good cellular coverage in case I need to call for help. Lately, because of the snow and the two hiking poles, it’s been bright enough I don’t need a flashlight, but when the streets are clear, I carry a hiking stick in one hand and a flashlight in the other.

Yesterday, when I told friends about my nightly trek and they expressed concern, I just shook my head and mentioned all the things I’d done alone. “But that was years ago,” they said. I agreed, and it was only later I realized they probably meant when I was much younger. What I meant by “years ago” was a mere two years in the past. Most of my adventuring didn’t start until I was sliding down the bannister into old age. (I’m still sliding. Spending so much time with a woman decades older than myself makes me feel young since I can still do most things as well as ever. A bit slower, perhaps, but I am still out and about, for which I am grateful. And she thinks I am just a kid, which helps the illusion.)

So you can see, as adventures go, this one is rather mild, though it does help feed my adventurous spirit.

***

My novel of a quarantine predated this real life experience by a decade. You can read the first chapter online here:  http://patbertram.com/A_Spark_of_Heavenly_Fire.html

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