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The Beauty of the Natural Elements...Despite the Dirt.

26 Nov 2017 16:31 #1 by ARLewis
ARLewis ► The Beauty of the Natural Elements...Despite the Dirt.
The Beauty of the Natural Elements...Despite the Dirt.

A few months ago, during a particularly rough time for me, I had apparently been spending too much time either working or documenting explorations in the Afterlife. Now, I do not see this as wrong or in any way wasted. After all, I have a duty to both the university to help preserve antiquated documents and to my fellow students of the Afterlife to pass along knowledge contained therein. How is it then that I found myself camping?

Shock to the system...isn’t it?

It was for me too. I hate dirt. I’m okay with controlled clutter, but dirt for some reason bothers me. I’m okay with nature...have I mentioned I’m not really one for research out in the field? My time is mainly spent with books and facts and not wide open spaces and weird noises in the night. So, when a colleague challenged me to get out of the stuffy buildings and out into nature, I said no. Unfortunately for me, the Professor happened by and loved the idea. “Would do you good to be outside and appreciate life.”

“But sir. I’ve got reports to finish, entries to update, and there is that section in the Windswept Desert that I…”

“Such research is needed, yes. Knowledge is a good thing and needs to be shared. One also must have a grounding in this life as well.”

As I left the room, after the Professor already had of course, I kicked my colleague in the shins.
So off I went. I borrowed some camping gear, took some notebooks as I couldn’t take my laptop, got some appropriate food in a cooler, and downloaded some camping guides to my pda so I’d have some idea of what I was doing. (I was never a boy scout you know). I figured I was all set.
It took me roughly 2 hours to get to the campsite I had reserved. I’m sorry, I’m truly a safe defensive driver. It was a nice drive at least. I listened to The Hobbit on my cd player. The campground itself was rather pleasant, no one else really around, no major woodland creatures to deal with, and a gentle river was nearby. Some things I will be truly grateful for that I learned from my pda. First, bring extra clothes if you can, second, bring extra wood for a fire, third, fishing gear never goes amiss, and fourth, soap. Since I was driving and not hiking in, I could do all these things.

As I was trying to set up the tent, the instruction sheet got carried away by a gust of wind, straight into the river. In trying to retrieve it, I fell in and floated onto a rather muddy bank. After getting cleaned up, I was able to set up the tent, which promptly fell down as the rain started. It only lasted...two hours. But everything was soaked. I couldn’t start a fire to save my life. Shivering throughout the night as I was only able to get the tent back up hastily and even the inside was wet, I had to get it up though because the bugs came out in force and I had no way of combating them. (I’m allergic to some of the chemicals in bug sprays). I did not get much sleep of course. I woke up to some awful tearing sounds and left the tent to find that the cooler I had brought was torn apart and the contents being devoured by some woodland critters, raccoons I think.

Amazingly enough, I didn’t just give up and leave. I did have the keys to my car back out though when a piece of paper fell out of one of my notebooks. It was from the Professor.

“My dear student. Thank you for giving this camping trip a try. Trust me, after this experience, you’ll be better able to appreciate not only nature and how all of the elements play a part in it, but you’ll be able to take that knowledge back into the Afterlife with you and help other students adapt as well. You’ll have fun too. Don’t forget to chronicle some of your experiences out there of course. I know how much you like that. Enjoy. Professor Slate.”


I stopped, took a deep breath, and looked around. It was rather pretty out here. I reset the tent, after finding a second copy of the instructions, and did it properly this time. I went on a short hike around the area and made some notes on some interesting plants, tree formations, and some birds I saw. Later that day, I got out the fishing gear and actually caught something! I couldn’t believe it! I have no idea what kind of fish it was though. I kept at it till I had 3 fish. (stop wondering what they were please). I used some of the extra wood I brought because everything in the area was still really wet and was able to start a fire. I had brought matches and a couple of starter logs.

As I was sitting back that night, I took a deep breath again realized just how pretty it all was. Especially the fire. Properly made and contained, fire can be both very useful and delightful to behold. The dancing forms, the sometimes different colors, fire can be very hypnotic as well. It can also protect. After a while, I realized that I wasn’t being bitten as much anymore. I looked around and didn’t really see any bugs. I do remember a moth, or something like it, that seemed to fly around the fire. I don’t know why, but it seemed to fly straight into wisp of flame.

He he, I thought. A campfire is Nature’s bug zapper.

I stayed for two more days...mainly because a family at a nearby campsite had some extra food they shared with me, for which I was very grateful, as I was no longer having any luck with fishing. But I didn’t care. It meant I didn’t have to touch the bait again.

The morale of the story: ...well, there really isn’t one. Except that the elements are all around us. Learn how to use them, learn how to adapt them to what you need, but above all, keep learning, if only to appreciate the natural order and beauty of all things...and the multi-use bug zapper.


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