The Nature Cure

  I’m just back from a few nights around a campfire with great friends. We were on a late winter island getaway. One remarkable moment after another— so many I tried to make a list. When I read it out loud it sounded like a poem. “sea grass, dunes, sugar sand, wet sugar sand, sea”. One scrap of conversation sticks out in memory: my friend Janet’s comment that she felt like a kid getting to play outside til dark. We watched armadillos and possums cross paths with squirrels and raccoons, and the light’s thousand ways of filtering through the live …

A Bear Island Anniversary

I was standing at a counter filling out paperwork to camp on one of North Carolina’s barrier islands when the ranger reminded me what day it was— May 15, my 40th wedding anniversary. In 40 years I’d managed to reconfigure myself from the wearer of the long white gown to the bearer of the backpack full of gear. Nothing beats an island for turning inward. I found my campsite behind a twenty foot dune. Everywhere blackberry bushes grew absolutely flat against the ground, the white sand reflecting heat and light to ripen the thousand shining berries. It was a milk-and-honey …

Back to the woods

Dusk and a half moon. Firefly lights smeared across pasture air. Frogs blanket the higher reaches with a thousand sounds. Steam rises off the land from the long awaited rainfall. It’s as beautiful here as the nights before when we camped alongside a remote creek. Hiking for hours— climbing past root and stone, finding the occasional gemstone— brown mushrooms the color of a tiny animal, nascent Indian pipes, dragonflies carved from turquoise with black velvet spider webs for wings. We locate four waterfalls and there follows looking at the world from behind sheets of water and speechless stone sitting. One …

The Gift From Our Fathers

    It was all black mirror water, jade green duckweed and pearl gray leafless trees. A soft gray day. We arrived at the millpond in northeastern North Carolina, with our food, water and canoes last week and set out paddling to our campsite on a hillside covered in beeches and poplars. There were thousands of saplings among the larger trees— so many that the woods were the color of a dove.   Our first night was chilly and we built a fire. Because we hauled our gear in a canoe instead of on our backs, we were able to …

Exploring the far east

With my wanderlust friends I set out this past week for the great alluvial plain that is eastern North Carolina.  I hesitate to talk much about its mystery, authenticity, history and lavish southernness for fear of its discovery. We all departed at different times in our various trucks hauling our camping gear and kayaks.  Our destination was Goose Creek State Park.  We met up in a  tall forest of  pines and hardwoods on a peninsula in the vicinity of the Pamlico Sound, and set up camps. One day it had been balmy and the next it was the knife edge …

Inheritance

I am writing this on an empty beach at 7:30 in the morning the week before Thanksgiving,while camping on a barrier island that’s a 45 minute ferry ride off the coast of Georgia.  This is the most undisturbed spit of coastal land I’ve had the privilege to experience in the United States of America.  I can’t remember ever being in a place where there were thousands of acres of  200-500 year old live oaks, miles of palms and long leaf pines, no pavement, hardly any infrastructure and so little humanity. On foot this island seems vast.  Even with the aid …

Vagabonding

Before I settle down to a summer’s work it’s good to do a little gypsy roaming.  I just had a great break from my routine, exploring Provence.  At first I enjoyed the companionship of wonderful friends at Le Beaucet in a  delightful country home. We saw the sights, enjoyed the regional foods and wines, and were expertly guided, tended and fed by Mary James and Xavier (www.maryjames.net) . In my journal I made a list of sounds and sights and smells that were especially vivid.  And of course, tastes.  There were many.  It was a sensual feast from morning until …