Amber

Oh, these woods. 

These woods hold such light for me but beyond all light, there is dark and just like most aspects of my insane life the dark sometimes wins. 

It’s somehow so soothing to hear the awful sound of the thousands of decapitated saplings dragging along the bottom of my once pristine little car. The screech of progress, the ssskkkkrrrrr of me winning back my place in the world from the clutches of nature. 

The slap of that errant branch that daily sneaks its way into my window as I pass. You won that battle tiny tree arm but I will win the war. 

The distant rattle of the generator reminds me that we really are roughing it, not that I need a lot of reminding because it really is rough. Camping was never fun for me as a child but it had enjoyable moments. This isn’t camping. This is living life over a campfire and an increase in age, weight and bad attitude didn’t increase my enjoyment level.

Camp cooking doesn’t translate to every meal. A hot dog or a burger, even a steak for you rich so-and-sos who can afford red meat, are accentuated by the smokey flavors emitted from high-quality tinder. 

Ramen noodles, while the basis for a million tasty broke people meals, were never meant to taste like liquid smoke. 

I brag on my outside campfire tub and while I do love it, you guessed it, that joker is rough. The land isn’t level so neither is the tub. I’m fighting a losing battle with gravity trying to float away from the hand-crafted stopper and the inevitably angry hot spots just waiting to turn this briny water into a literal tub of Amberpfeffer. My love of pine trees hasn’t translated into enjoying a warm soak in pine needle tea but it happens constantly whether I enjoy it or not. I guess it’s probably a good source of Vitamin C. 

The sound of the breeze making its way through our forest is calming to my overly amped-up soul. 

The gentle sway of the pines and the cool touch of the country air lull me into utter relaxation until another of those danged pine needles comes hurtling toward me at Mach 3 aimed directly at any one of the only 3 functioning human eyes left on this property. 

When sight is restored, the breezes through our wooded canopy find ways to assault so many other senses. The smell of whatever creature didn’t make it through the night is a micro-aggression against my sensitive nature. The sound of buzzards groaning about their existence as they circle above, just waiting to release some load of debris on us woodland folk. 

Nature’s garbage disposals, those majestic monstrosities of the sky, seekers of snack-time kitties, and receivers of lead if they aren’t careful. We see them circle or pass them on the side of the road dining on whatever’s left of last night’s man vs. nature mash-up, but we never really take in the true size of these foul beasts. My God! 

A barn creaks under their weight, a tree bows to their girth, and I gather my furballs and disappear from sight! No snacks from my side of the fence you winged velociraptor. 

To wake up just before my alarm destroys the silence is a wonder. To watch the sun peek through my treeline is a reminder of the beauty nature holds, the beauty we overlook with our noses pressed to our screens. 

Then there’s night.

After the purples and reds of nightfall in a polluted sky fade away we’re left with darkness. 

Real darkness. Real, no city lights, no street lights, darkness. Black. Empty but never really empty. That darkness you know exists when you’re the last one awake and you must turn out all the lights.

I’ve only realized in writing this...I might be living in the real world version of my own soul and I’ve brought this upon myself.  

Amber Lollar is the senior reporter for The Henderson News. Her e-mail address is <reporter@thehendersonnews.com>.© 2021, Henderson Newspapers Inc.

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