Bullshit Artist in the Woods

12-19-dancing-bears

 
Camping. Who doesn’t love to camp? Fresh air, quiet, nature, removing yourselves (hopefully) from all things that would take you away from the NOW. Email, phone calls, and social networking all set aside to make memories with the people you love (I am hoping you are not subjecting yourselves to time in the wilderness with people that you do not like). ME!! That is who does not like camping.

The looks that I get from people are like I just told them I like to eat baby panda’s for dinner. It is not that I can’t camp or have not enjoyed myself camping. But I would rather not. You see I have put in hard time camping, not those wispy, week long camping trips, but hardcore camping.

My mother’s 4th husband was a self-proclaimed artist. Although I never once saw him pick up a paintbrush, hunk of clay, charcoal, let alone a freaking pencil. There were pictures of him posed in charming black and white, and some sepia, all over the house posing as an artist. When I was a little younger than school age he decided he wanted to be a forest ranger and needed to be closer to nature so that nature could be his muse. We promptly moved from the town in which we lived to the woods surrounding Dead Indian Creek near Howard Prairie Reservoir. When I say we moved into the wilderness I am not referring to a cabin or cottage in the forest. We, meaning my mom, her husband, his half-wolf, half-Malamute dog moved into two tents in the middle of the forest. I had a two man tent and they had some luxurious fancy thing that they could fit a queen bed on a fancy wrought iron bed frame and had an awning that made the tent seem like it had its own goddamned porch. That was it. I had a rag doll, a few items of clothing, and a sleeping bag. I was given a small shovel for going to the bathroom.

What we ate was harvested in the forest, caught, or occasionally given. Cooked over the camp fire. There was no propane stove. At night, it was dark unless one of the kerosene lamps was lit, but my stepfather did not like waste so it was rarely on. I was given a mason jar with holes poked in the metal lid and pointed in the direction of a meadow when I would complain about being lonely and having no one to play with. The one creature that should have been an obvious companion to a little girl was an asshole, the dog, like his owner, hated me. And I was not a stupid child, I did not tempt the fate those big white fangs held once those black lips curled back to snarl at me. I liked all my parts and wanted them to stay pristine and un-chewed.

Bathing happened twice a week, we either paid for the showers at Howard Prairie Lake or we went to people’s houses to use their bathrooms. I was always a passive child. Afraid of being yelled at by my fake artist, bully of a step dad, I didn’t often complain.

I am sure bears often came to the camp. I never saw one up close until one night, when I was trying to get to sleep. Sleeping was hard because I was always imagining things coming and dragging me off into the woods. I remember rolling towards a noise I heard and holding my breath. There against the light of either the other tent or the fire I saw the outline of a great, immensely large person. I do think that my shrieking frightened that bear off and I am equally certain that my screams were heard all the way into the valleys because they were just that loud. I have yet to hear a thank you from either of those two adults for saving their lives. Rude!

The years passed…just kidding it was 6 months but to a solitary child with only bugs as friends it seemed like years. We eventually moved out of our spot in the forest into a HUGE town called Prospect. It was a logging town, with probably 300 people there, but it seemed like a huge town of laughter and magically flushing toilets. The first day in the house I stood in the bathroom alternating between dinking with the faucets and ogling the Porcelain Princess until I got hollered at.

A few things that I have taken from this experience that have followed me my whole life:

#1 I do not like using other people’s bathrooms and will avoid it at all cost until I am doubled over with my knees clenched.

#2 I do not like to camp. This idea is not frivolous, the stripes have been earned. I have camped and enjoy parts. I like being out in the middle of nowhere, hanging out on the water all day, sitting around a campfire laughing and telling stories ( don’t throw rocks, but never have liked S’mores), and I like that feeling of just being together with no distractions. That same feeling can be had without a tent: rent a cabin and have a rip roaring campfire….as long as there is a bathroom I am ALLLLLLL good!

** I never ever did see one piece of art made that 6 months, so maybe nature wasn’t the muse that he was looking for.

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8 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Agent 54
    Aug 31, 2013 @ 03:50:31

    Camping is a lot better with an M-16 and a lot of ammo.

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  2. georgefloreswrite
    Aug 31, 2013 @ 05:57:31

    Give me toilets and hot running water where my modesty is not risked. Camping has to suck and I’m never doing it.

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