We have reached my favorite time of year. Fall means an end to oppressive heat and humidity of the mid-Atlantic. It means crisp, cool nights and the faint smell of smoke on the air on breezy days. I love that smell. And that brings me to my feelings and points I am trying to convey.
There is something about the woods that comforts me. I love the shade. It creates a feeling of security for me. I can’t say why exactly. My wife swears it’s my native heritage. The woods make me feel as if I am protected by the trees. The provide me cover to move unobserved.
I have always been a nut about that. I hate everyone and his brother being able to observe me as I move about my property – I don’t know why – I just do. I realized an odd thing the other day. I moved from a fancy new neighborhood of 2500 sq. ft. transitional homes to a forty year old neighborhood. My home in the fancy neighborhood had almost no trees on the lot, but I lived on a tiny and quiet cul-de-sac, but I still felt exposed, thus uncomfortable.
I moved to this house 3 years ago. I live about 10 houses up from the neighborhood entrance so I have a lot more cars driving by my home everyday, yet as this lot is tree-filled, I feel unexposed and far more secure. Yeah, I’m a freak.
I have always felt safe amongst the trees. To be in the open is discomforting for me. I feel completely exposed and vulnerable. It would seem this is all part of my natural make-up. When i go to a restaurant I never sit with my back to the door – never. I can’t sit there and be comfortable – too much movement going on behind me for me to feel comfortable.
I sort of attributed this condition to the life I led for so many years, but then I realized I was always like this. Even as a kid I never wanted to be where I could not see everything going on around me. I hesitate to mention these things because there are those who would love to see a chink in someone’s armor and announce me a paranoid fool. I am neither.
I am supremely confident I can handle any event short of an alien spaceship landing on my young ass. But to handle every event that may present, I need to see it present, no? And that’s why my back is never to a door – never.
And in the forest I always feel I am in complete control.
I am a natural at woodcraft – again, maybe it’s the native blood in me – for 10,000 years a huge portion of my genetic make-up spent living in and surviving off of the forest. I can track animals and I do not know how I acquired that skill, but I can do it – I do not claim to be a tracker or nothing, but I can do it – again, why I can do it is a mystery to me. Perhaps we all have innate and often undiscovered or unused skills.
Perhaps an innate sense in me finds a natural comfort in the trees. I know I can shelter and feed myself off the land with few problems. Oh sure, I might be a tad shy of the Ritz, but I can be warm, dry and fed, and aren’t those the most important basic needs of our species?
So long as I am warm, dry and can gather food, I can survive, and for me surviving is my most natural priority. I have often felt that many modern Westerners have lost these skills. But then my love of history plays into this too,
I loved the French & Indian War period of our pre-Revolutionary history. And in reading the tens of thousands of pages I have on the topic, I came to the conclusion that if one wanted to be safe from marauding Indian warriors, being unseen was one of the best ways to keep one’s scalp firmly attached. And for being unseen the forest is real good for that. Lacking a cave, the forest is the best natural cover on the planet.
Of course it did dawn on me that during the French & Indian War period I was more then likely one of the Indians doing the scalping as opposed to the one being scalped. And where better to hide and ambush one’s potential scalping victims then to hide in the woods and sneak up on ’em?
Either way the woods make me feel like I am at home. Drop me off with a few hundred feet of rope, a couple Bic lighters, a hatchet and a weapon and ammo for hunting, and come back in a year. I’ll be there, dry, warm and fed. Course I might just be supremely pissed at ya for dropping me off, so ya might be in for a scalping!
But rest assured, you’ll never know what hit ya. See, you’ll never see me coming – I was hiding in the woods, dummy!