Swamps II

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Joined: 06/03/2010

Swamps II
            It was twilight and soon darkness would swallow the day and it would be too dark for me to make it out of the woods and back to the hunting camp safely. I had lost track of time and hunted down deep into a thick swamp overgrown with cedar and willow and the remnants of old, dead elms and other hardwoods that couldn’t survive the influx of water from the beaver dam across a no-name stream. I would have to camp out that night and stay warm with little to eat but a candy bar and two partridge I had bagged earlier. Fortunately I had my small pocket kit which had salt and pepper along with all the other essentials vital to staying alive in the wilderness. I had often spent a night out but not always out of necessity like this time.
            First I had to find a good campsite that was dry and sheltered and I also needed a fire with enough dry wood to feed it all night. As a boy I had practiced building fires, even in the winter snow or just camping out on summer nights in my backyard. The confidence I gained was invaluable and allowed me to feel comfortable with staying out all night in a swamp like this. I had a small plastic poncho and a space blanket in my kit so sleeping wasn’t a problem with the mild fall temperatures. Food would come last and I figured it would be adequate for one evening.
             I had never been afraid of the dark even as a child and this was no different. I actually enjoyed the solitude and comfort of the night along with the mystery of the night sounds which had always intrigued me. Countless times I had often gotten up early before daylight to walk to deer posts and usually never needed a flashlight (although there was a small one in my kit). In contrast my older brother was never able to get out early without a light and I suspect the night was not as friendly to him as it was to me. I think my love of the night was because there were so many things I enjoyed doing at night, hunting raccoons at night, catching night crawlers for bait on many a summer night and gigging frogs as well as bullhead fishing in the creek with an old tire for a campfire.
            That night I was only a few miles from our camp and I didn’t feel this was a survival situation but many have been in the same spot and never made it out. Panic and fear are the culprits that sometimes doom a lost soul before they even realize it. My past had groomed me for this and any other such experience if I ever encountered it. I had been turned around or, if you prefer, lost many times in the woods but I had the sense to keep fear out of the equation and use my past training as a way to make the situation a pleasant ordeal rather than a tragedy.
            That night as I watched the pats slowly cook on the stick above my fire I enjoyed listening to the night birds and frogs cheerily singing away the hours. Even the buzzing of the interminable “bugs” was a mini symphony at times. An owl hooted periodically and I could hear a dear snort once or twice. The fire was both a lure and a warning to most of the night creatures and the curious deer actually walked to the edge of the firelight to watch me in wonderment. All of this was my evening in the swamp. I wrote about swamps in more detail in a previous tale (Swamps) but felt this was worth sharing as a sequel.