Design For Life: Camping Brings Me Home

Carol gets back to the basics and reconnects with nature, herself and environmental design.

| May/June 2007

I’m sitting at a picnic table, enjoying the spring morning sun on my face. A bird pecks at the ground near me, and a squirrel skitters up a tall pine. I inhale deeply and take in the scents of sagebrush and my neighbor’s pancakes cooking over a fire. The nearby stream gurgles down the mountain. Behind me is the steep, eastern face of the Sierra Nevada; far below me spreads a lush valley where cattle graze.

An hour ago, at sunrise, I lay warm in my sleeping bag, gazing up through the netted top of my tent at the pale blue sky laced with pine branches. I love these moments, when early sunlight slowly brings me to consciousness and all my senses come awake to the gentle nourishment of the living world.

Now all is calm and the morning chill abates. My tummy is satisfied with the simple breakfast of cereal and fruit I’ve just finished. I’m sipping my herbal tea, thinking about how I’ll wash my dishes before setting off on a hike. This just might be heaven.

One with nature

I’m not sure who I’d be if I didn’t camp regularly. Being outdoors in a beautiful place, day after day, renews me. I rediscover my organic nature and my kinship with communities of plants and animals. I can become absorbed in watching ants flowing in and out of their anthill, birds pecking insects from the bark of a tree or lizards sunning on a rock.

The special feeling begins even before I leave home. Planning what to take reminds me of how little we really need: clothing, easy-to-cook food, basic kitchen equipment and sleeping gear. Food, clothing, shelter.

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