I love the silence that fills the air. But then the silence gives way, and you hear the soft sounds of the creek tumbling over river stones, the gentle whispering of the wind, or the rustling of leaves as they fall from the trees and scurry over the ground. The birds are often quiet after the morning sun has risen high in the sky but occasionally they sing out to each other, and to me. I love how the sounds build into a crescendo as the moon rises and the sky turns dark. The silence is obliterated by the shrieking of the cicada and the incessant croaking of what must be a thousand frogs convalescing at the creek’s edge. The evening wears on and I love how the sounds gently fade away as even nature’s nocturnal creatures decide to retire for the night. I love when, in the middle of the night, I can hear that the wind’s whisper has become more urgent and the leaves hang on for dear life as the tree branches thrash against each other vying for my attention, but they only manage to lull me into a deep sleep. I even love the way my dog, at 50 pounds, spends the night shivering from fear of the noises in the dark until exhaustion overtakes her and I feel the weight of her body give way to slumber.
I love organizing my campsite as if the tiny patch of nature is my home—sweeping away pinecones and rocks and twigs with a fallen pine branch to make a smooth surface to pitch my tent, moving a log near the fire to sit and write in my journal, placing a book and a flashlight in my tent to keep me occupied if I wake in the night. I love foraging for firewood, first tiny twigs to serve as kindling, then small sticks, and eventually large fallen branches that require me to break them up before I can lug them back to the campsite. This is a laborious task and the amount of wood I need to collect is overwhelming but I know the reward is a fire that will endure through the last hours of daylight into the dim moments of dusk through the blackness of night and then again in the morning. I love the challenge of starting the fire, building a teepee with the kindling and taking care to make sure the branches are all dry. I know that the fire usually won’t catch the first few tries and I’m forced to be patient and try again and then again and again but sometimes I rip blank pages out of my journal and crumple them up, sticking them under the kindling and lighting them and blowing on the steeple of sticks, praying that a spark catches and the fire begins. I love how the fire grows and I love knowing that I can tame this beast roaring before me and with the same fascination I watch the fire die and whimper and fold into itself until only hot white coals remain.
I love the mornings when I wake up in my tent to the light of dawn spilling across the sky and giving birth to the possibilities of the day. I love starting the fire anew in the chill of the morning and cooking over the open flame. I love sipping strong coffee from a tin mug and watching my dog run after birds and squirrels and leaves and the way her ears perk up, and her head tilts, and her nose lifts in the air catching the scent of the next bird or squirrel or leaf.
I love hiking through the forest, with my dog just ahead of me, always looking back to make sure I haven’t fallen too far behind. I love when she stops, ears alert, tail up, front paw raised in anticipation, and then I see the deer and she sees the deer and the deer sees us and the world pauses to determine who makes the first move. I can never detect who moves first because in a burst of commotion the deer is bounding deeper into the woods and my dog is leaping, with a grace she doesn’t exhibit in the confines of my bedroom, and the two are lost to the forest and I wait patiently for my dog to come sauntering back to me after losing her prize.
I love the way my mind… slows… down… There are no deadlines, no phone calls, no traffic, no obligations other than to myself and to nature. I cherish this moment by myself and with myself and with Mother Nature who guides me and protects me and feels free to teach me a lesson when I’ve disobeyed. My spirit is at peace. I have conversations with my creator and I listen to my soul respond. I am renewed out here. On the trail. In the woods. In the mountains.
Simone Adams is a freelance writer and editor. She enjoys telling a
story from an intimate perspective. She is an avid hiker and is often
joined on the trail by her teenage son or her dog. Connect with her at
Photos by the author Simone Adams