Trees. Pine. Needles beneath feet that walk a forest path. The rough outline of a line mowed down by atvs driven by cheap beer, a trail trailblazed by boy scouts. Children in the khaki uniforms of the post-war fifties walking a path now strewn with fern and fur. The smell of pine, the sound of rushing water. The rush of stream, cutting through the forest. The water making its way, regardless of impediment, for its destiny, the ocean. And the ocean WIDE and welcoming. Headwaters, then stream, then river, straining to be welcomed by the great water, the ocean. And the ocean, so gentle, pushing back, gently with the tide.
That is water; this is wild, the dank smell and the rushing noise. The same water that comes streaming from the tap and gently covers us in ours bath. The water we drink and in which we swim, gently paddling, weightless and surrounded.
The beauty of a place like the United States is that there are still places where you can drive an hour from a city and find yourself in this wooded place: a mile from an empty, abandoned campground, 5 miles up an empty dirt road, surrounded, engulfed in wildness. Sometimes I feel like this is the BEST part of living in America, this wildness.
I don't think about being in America much, which is probably really an American thing to think. In fact because of an unfortunate thing, most people think I'm not American to begin with. So I've grown up unattached to America (which is also probably really American). I'm not nationalistic or patriotic. I don't like America any better than other countries and to be truthful I have never felt very "American."
But when in I'm in the woods, in the wild, and I can still feel faintly the fog of a former people, tracking through this land as they hunted or the sound of wind in the trees with no people at all, that's when I think most of the idea of America. That love for the wild things; the love for adventure that drove people to embrace this wide, wild country. I know, out in the woods, that in my heart runs the blood of those people, who stretched out their hands to a new land, and then another, stretching, out of curiousity and fear, for the wild.