Doug Bruns

By the Wilson Stream.

In Adventure, Life, Nature, The Examined Life, Writing on September 18, 2012 at 6:00 am

Against the night.

I camped along Wilson Stream last week, not far from Toby Falls–four nights in my sleeping bag, crawling out of my tent in the morning, welcomed by crisp fall air and the scent of pine. By Saturday night the weather had turned from cool to cold and I woke in the dark of my tent and searched for my tee shirt. I had my summer bag, rated to forty degrees. It is no longer summer in Maine and the summer bag will be stowed and replaced with my fall-winter bag, rated to zero less eighteen. At one point, deep in the night, I exited the tent and studied the night sky. The northern night sky, void of light pollution and reflecting a black ice clarity, always makes my heart sing. The big dipper hung overhead and from the ladle I traced the line to the north star, steady in the sky. There is a short period, three minutes or so, after crawling from a sleeping bag, where the warmth of sleep clings to a body, insulating against the elements. But, like so many protections, this too is brief and temporary, and a scramble back into the bag follows without delay.

I slept next to moving water and there is hardly a thing better than going to sleep under the north star on the bank of a lively stream.

I am not sorry to see summer go. Fall is my favorite season and now I’m steeling myself for cozy nights and short days and plentiful reading and thinking and earnest study.

_____________

I relish evening fires with new friends, faces in dancing orange and amber, curtain of night descended. I find great comfort in a community fire ring. There is warmth and protection and sturdy friendship constructed there. It is deep in our brains a friend said, this satisfaction. Yes, I agreed. One hundred and fifty thousand years ago my ancesters and your ancesters and all our long-forgotten families sat by the fire as protection against the unknowns of night, finding comfort in one another. That is but one reason to seek out the wild. It feeds an ancient longing that cannot be defined; but if one is still and is patient this ancient thing might speak to you.

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  1. I really enjoyed reading this, you have an excellent way with the written word. I read it twice!

    • Thanks for your kind words. Words are all I have and it’s nice when they sometimes come together in the right way. I appreciate that you noticed.
      Regards,
      D

  2. Your last paragraph reminds me of this passage from Walden:

    “The very simplicity and nakedness of man’s life in the primitive ages imply this advantage at least, that they left him still but a sojourner in nature. When he was refreshed with food and sleep, he contemplated his journey again. He dwelt, as it were, in a tent in this world, and was either threading the valleys, or crossing the plains, or climbing the mountain tops. But lo! men have become the tools of their tools.”

    • Such a terrific quote. I’m honored that my thoughts triggered such a connection. And of course it is perfect Thoreau. He paints a beautiful image then pokes us in the eye with the last sentence: “But lo! men have become the tools of their tools.” I am reminded of the sentence in his essay, Life Without Principal: “Let us consider the way in which we spend out lives.” I grew up reading and ingesting much of HDT but somewhere along the line forgot his most profound advice: Simplify, simplify, simplify. That track is now secured and the journey is carried forward, but not without the difficulty of getting back on course.
      Thanks for the note.
      Best,
      D

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