Last week, while checking out at the grocery store, the clerk asked me, “Are you always in the woods?”
We laughed and bantered back and forth, and my answer was something like “No, but I wish I could be.” As I drove home, the question hung with me and caused me to think: “Why am I always outdoors?”
“Why am I drawn to the woods?”
For me, the woods, the trees, the ponds – they’re my escape from reality, my hiding place from the everyday. When I’m slipping through the hickories chasing squirrels or hidden up high in my tree stand with my bow or tucked back in my turkey blind, I’m transported to another place, another time.
I’m 44 years-old, but I still have the imagination of a 13 year-old kid and the wilderness fuels that wanderlust.
I close my eyes, breathe deep and in a moment, my Southern Indiana hunting spot is a Rocky Mountain forest in the American West and I can see myself chasing a bugling bull elk as he screams out his calls. I blink and my mind drifts and my thoughts take me to the Yukon and I imagine a huge moose as he slowly walks towards my spot, rocking his paddle sized antlers from side to side.
I can imagine the Ohio River Valley as how it used to be. Two hundred and fifty years ago, vast tracts of virgin timber, giant mature hardwoods as far as you could see. A time when deer, elk, black bears and bison roamed what is now Switzerland County and home.
The woods equal freedom for me: freedom from stress, free from work.
Out here, there are no deadlines, no decisions to be made, no questions asked, no complaints. No bills, no finances, no laundry. There’s no rumor and gossip, no insecurity or judgment.
There is just me, God and His creation.
My mind is at rest, my thoughts at peace. No burden to carry or weight to lift, no worry.
It’s cleansing, it’s retreat.
It recharges my batteries.
Out here, things have their place. It’s simple and complex all at the same time. Out here the world is beautiful, it’s alive, in stark contrast to what we’re bombarded with on television, the radio and Internet.
Maybe your idea of escape isn’t an evening watch over a deer trail or an early morning sunrise waiting for a turkey to appear. Maybe yours isn’t casting along the banks of a pond for a bass or wading the shallow riffles of a creek hoping to hook up a smallmouth, but whatever your natural escape is, find it.
Gardening, cutting firewood, an afternoon on the golf course. A family camping trip, a bonfire, a hike. Just get outside, find your escape, find your freedom. Maybe, just maybe if we connected to the real world, the natural world, the world that our ancestors lived in for generations, maybe it would be a better place. To be connected to the land, to still live a rural lifestyle, to live a slower place.
To be simple…
I hunt and fish a lot, but bringing home antlers and meat is least of all the reasons I do so.
Yeah, I have quite an imagination, but I can tell you that my “natural” stress relief is better than anything that can be found at the bottom of a bottle or from a doctor’s prescription.
– David Hewitt