I got up this morning and decided to do something I've been trying to do for quite awhile now, take a day off and get away from the neural-net that surrounds me throughout the week; leave behind the wires, wireless, keyboards, communications gear, and all the other techno-baubles I traditionally carry around and just enjoy a day in the woods.
Danielle and JB, two friends of mine from back in the Electrolux days, have a litte trailer down on Blounts Creek, North Carolina, so around noon today I packed a backpack with my GPS, a spare pair of jeans, a warm vest, a good paperback book I've been meaning to finish, my guns, and a folding camp chair and headed on down to the river to enjoy the afternoon.
What did I accomplish? Not a thing. I got down there around 1 pm, planted my ass firmly in the comfy greaves of my ten dollar folding camp chair, and drank coffee sitting around a fire barrel all afternoon. Sometime in the middle of the afternoon, JB slow cooked some hot wings and the neighbors from the surrounding camp sites began to scurry over like moths drawn to the curiousity of a flame in the dying of the light. The descent of the sun into the western sky marked the beginning of my satisfaction at achieving nothing today. My biggest achievement was playing the role of audience member to the scene played out by the sun as it began it's creeping movement down through the carolina pines. The smell of burning heartwood filled the air as the breezes off the river played games with the smoke, blowing it first one way then another in the evening air while I sat contentedly beneath the brim of the fire, immune to the effects of the ever shifting haze, but happily watching it dance briefly through the air before dissapating into the sky.
As the locals wandered over, some in curiousity at the newcomer to their camp, some with ideas of their own relaxation on their minds, I met some very nice people throughout the evening. I won't do them justice here, for I have forgotten their names at the moment, but I hope they will forgive me as I was focused more on the "event" of non-event than I was the individuals I was sharing it with. Sometime around dark the air in the camp took on the singed scent it takes when metal starts to give off it's heat in the night air. Oysters were brought over from some of the others living nearby and the fire pit became immediately and decadently transformed into an open air oyster bar. The sounds of popping oysters on the tin grate over the fire accompanied the popping of the sap in the pine wood as we all sat around the pit telling stories of our lives and I happily eavesdropped on the easygoing camraderie created by people from the south, the only other sound audible being the sizzle as an oyster released its watery juices to the steaming heat of the fire. No matter their acquaintance or familiarity, it seems that conversational bonds are spontaneously created by those who share a love of shellfish, with each taking their turns to tell some small story of life years ago, whilst taking brief moments to slurp the fresh saltwater juice from one half of an oyster shell and then picking out the gelatinous body with a saltine cracker from the other before tossing the eviscerated shell in a bucket and reaching for another, all the while wiping their mouth with the back of their hand and sipping from a cold beer in the cooler. Three men sat around discussing the best way to cook oysters, all the while completely content with the way they were being cooked, and oyster knives popped out of pockets as if they were a trinket everyone carried with them at all times.
I love North Carolina.