I wake up in the woods.
Well – for complete disclosure – I wake up in a motorhome parked in the woods. But still… I wake to the sound of chirping birds and absolutely nothing else.
Complete and total silence.
We sleepily change out of our pajamas and into last night’s clothes. Due to skill that comes with time and practice, it takes me all of five minutes to pack our bag and our cooler for the return trip home.
Roxie, our dog, is fast to wake up, anticipating her morning walk before we get on the road to head home.
Once she is trussed up in her harness, collar, and two leashes (for added security when walking a 140 pound dog), we step down out of the rig. The sound of gravel crunching beneath our shoes joins with the chirping of the birds. Soon, the happy panting of the dog adds to the morning chorus. Every once in a while, a pine cone drops from high in the trees, hitting the ground and adding some percussion to the music of the forest.
We don’t do a lot of talking on these mornings. We know that our time in the woods is limited. Instead, we suck in lungfuls of the clean, cool, pine-scented air. The dog stops to sniff a bush, our footfalls grow silent, and then it’s just the three of us and the sound of the birds again.
Some mornings, the sun is already high in the sky, its brightness sliced into streaks as it fights to shine into the forest. This morning, though, the fog dances in the evergreens, their tops ghostly and blurred, the sun hidden.
When our walk winds down, it’s time to leave.
This part is always full of reluctance. I know that life lies ahead, outside of the forest, through the gates that keep the members of this lovely camping community safe, and down that winding gravel road. I have work to do, reports to write, and conference calls to jump on. Sometimes I think that I’d like to stay right here in the woods, bring my work laptop, and work in the silence. And then I remind myself that these woods are my escape. They’re my outdoor temple, and the last thing I want to do is fill this space with the things that cause me stress.
We climb into the car and pull out of our campsite. I leave the husband and the dog inside and go back to string the chain across the entrance to Camp Echo Hill, and then give one last longing look at camp.
We make one last stop before we leave. Fog is heavy around the lake, steaming up from the flat water. The camps the border the lake all appear empty, as if we’re the only ones that even remember this wonderful place is here. Again, there is nothing but silence.
That peace, and the sound of birds chirping, gravel crunching, and a dog panting, is still with me as our tires hit pavement and we re-enter the “real” world. It’s all okay, because we’ll be back at camp soon.