Watching the sunlight fall atop the shed roof, visible from my living room window, was something of a gift. Those small moments scarcely exist in such a busy life- when we take time to truly appreciate simple beauty. Staring into the deep blue of the sky, watching the leaves ebb and flow with the comings and goings of the wind. To hear an owl call out into the emptiness of a wooded forest. The crunch of freshly fallen leaves beneath your feet as you search newly found grounds. The smell of the air and slight cool snap as you get closer to a water source- subtlety has no truer definition than how moisture hangs and thickens as you approach a lake.
I’m not truly alive anywhere else, I fear. When I can see the large pine trees swaying to and fro, almost waving to me and beckoning me to stay, I feel at home. When I take my first steps out of my truck, left on the side of a dirt road and carrying only a small pack with a sleep system and limited rations, a fishing pole and a firearm. As I walk away I hear the hawk cries out, oh lo what a glorious song. I stop and listen, thanking the hawk endlessly for sharing his time with me. I speak a few words in an ancient tongue no longer spoken and close my eyes. I thank God and the earth and the trees and the sun for everything they’ve been gracious enough to share with me.
I pull my food out of the lake, removing my boots and stepping into the shallows as I cast my line out again and again and again. The lake doesn’t seem so very deep, although that can be deceiving, so I keep my bait close to the water’s surface as I reel it back in. After a dozen or two casts and several nibbles I finally bring something in- a trout. The size of my bounty only matters in so much that it will fill my belly, and this one will do nicely. The fire I had started earlier is dying as I return with my meal, so I stoke it and prepare my pot. Water from my own supply added and boiled, then rice and one of the packets of seasoning I traditionally bring with me on such trips. Not that the food needs it, no. But I’m a hedonist when it comes to such things and I enjoy thoroughly enjoying a meal. I cook the fish separately, on a spit, and wait and watch as the skin crackles and peels away above the fire. Once both are done I combine them and eat, giving thanks again to God and the trees and wind and sun and fish for everything they have given.
Those are good days.