Lamentation of a Bushbuddy Hiker

I’m trying to remain as distracted as possible this evening to stave off the pending reality of tomorrow morning’s ankle surgery so I close my eyes and what do I see?

A Bushbuddy, a Bushbuddy, burnin’ wild and free.

When I’ve forced myself into a state of meditation about wilderness lately,  remarkable memories come to mind: a streamside camp at Truman Gulch in Montana’s Bridger Range (pine), camping on a Wulik River gravel bar in the Arctic (willow), and a cold clear sunset in Wyoming’s Red Desert (sage).

Not the woods, but these woods – pine, willow, sage – they bring me a sense of peace. Not for what they may represent (carbon dioxide sequestration?) or for the colors reflected by their foliage as the sun dips to the horizon.

But for how they smell when burned.

Pine, willow, sage:

The hot, syrupy, raw smell of a Yellowstone forest fire.

The moist, suffering, smoky scent of meager warmth in a wet climate.

And the sweet smell of playing cowboy on the open range.

Scents I hadn’t realized existed, much less thought about, until I started toting a wood stove into the backcountry.

Sure beats the smell of Esbit, eh?

So, please: don’t send flowers, candy, cards, books, DVDs containing whole seasons of CSI, or platefuls of brownies. These aren’t going to help my recovery.

If you long to appease me,
Maps would be good.
But if you really do love me,
You’ll send me some wood.