August 30, 2005

There and Back Again

Dane and his Chia Beard

I have been in the woods and now I have returned. For the moment, at least. I am absolutely exhausted in mind, body and spirit, and I have definitely strained the system in transitioning from camp to civilization by attending the Minnesota State Fair with some brave Menogynites and a hundred thousand others.

Thought and comprehension are impossible activities, and I find myself being overwhelmed by the smallest things. This morning I almost broke down while brushing my teeth, when I realized that I didn’t need to ration the amount of toothpaste I was using. For the first time in months, I knew that I could just drive to the store if I happened to run out.

I’m also extremely sensitive to the number of mirrors you encounter in the civilized world. I’ve barely seen myself since May, so to face any moderately reflective surface in the modern world and see myself is a rather discomforting experience. Also, ice. Ice in cold drinks blows my mind. Even the moderate excesses of modern life I find staggering.

That being said, I don’t wish to pine over the culture shocks rippling through my system, beyond the fact that this awkward transition makes it really difficult for me to know what the hell has happened to me over the course of this glorious season. Summer already draws to a close in the northcountry. The nights grow crisp, the undergrowth turns yellow, and a few impatient maples along the Gunflint Trail have already exploded in red.

As I look back, I know that this has been exactly the summer I wanted. I got to live in the woods with a small community of awesome folk, and introduced a ton of kids to the same place where I first fell in love with the outdoors. This summer I spent over 40 days camping out in the wilderness, and have reached a level of intimacy with the outdoors that I never knew possible. I am now completely tuned to its breaths and rhythms, which is why in less than a week I will be going back up to work at fall camp. My next return will be at the end of September, perhaps later.

There is so much to say, but I’m completely exhausted and thus eloquence does not come easy. So much has happened over the last three months that it will likely take me weeks to decompress. With only a few short days before I wander back up north, I won’t be able to sort it out now. This summer has blown my mind in every respect, and the only thing I can do is be patient as my brain slowly unfurls these precious thoughts.