Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Where The Wild Things Are

Originally uploaded by reallyct
So something you might not know about me is that I'm not opposed, either in theory or practice, to the outdoors. Sure, there are things that exist in the outdoors, bees, opossums, drifters, that I'm not especially partial to, but oftentimes the outdoors is pretty and I like pretty things. I also have this fancy new camera which I need to learn how to use. And it is far nicer to take pictures of pretty things than to snap shots of, for example, your collection of dustbunnies.

With this in mind, I decided to find myself some attractive outdoors for a little photo practice. I looked at a google map of my house and found the nearest bits of green which denote nature. About 30 minutes from my house is the Ward Pound Ridge park. It looked quite green on the google map.
And in fact it was greenish in person. And by green, I mean nature-y. It had the requisite trees and hills and rocks and water. Armed with my camera, two tripods, and a phone that probably wouldn't have gotten service any way, I proceeded to hike. It wasn't the loveliest of days and there was quite a bit of precipitation on the ground from one of the many deluges favored by our region of late, but it mattered not, for I had wisely chosen boots as opposed to Converse. For I am not an enemy of nature. Yea, I am pro nature and am quite at home amidst the wonders of creation.

Wait. Did you hear that?

That was clearly not a nature sound. That was very very very much a human sound. A male human sound. And, while it was just momentary, I heard crazy in that sound. And now that I've paused, I see another person. A male person. Most likely crazy. And only about 50 yards behind me.

I should pause now and say that bears, rabid deer, snakes, poisonous toads, none of these frightens me. Because they are part of nature and nature is good. Other people in nature, however, are, with practically zero exceptions dangerous crazy people of the I-am-coming-to-rape-and-dismember-you variety and should be avoided at all costs. And, as luck would have it, one was less than half a football field behind me.
Fortunately, my cunning survival skills were at the ready. The first, and most important thing was to put down the camera because there would clearly be more moss to photograph later at a time when I did not need to protect my person from raping, and get to higher ground. I should be able to see my attacker from above (where I could rain rocks down on his head etc.). As I scampered uphill, I kept my eyes peeled for nature's weapons: pointy sticks and rocks for braining. A pointy stick would be preferable, but in a pinch, I felt certain I could hold a rock in my fist (roll of quarters style) and fend off my attacker with my Mohammed Ali-like grace and agility.

I guess now would be as good a time as any to explain my particular brand of hubris. In pretty much any fight I give myself at least even odds. This is why I don't fear small (under 6 foot) sharks, black bears, pythons, and the religious right. I figure that in a showdown with any of them, I stand as good a chance, if not better, of being victorious. There is no basis for this in fact, but my thoughts are: if the shark is about my size, I'm sure I could inflict as much damage on him as he could on me. Devoted partner assures me this is ABSOLUTELY NOT THE CASE, but I think he's just being a worrywart. So, even though I only caught a glimpse of the crazy man in the woods on his way to chop off my body parts, I am completely positive that with a pointy stick at hand, I could incapacitate him prior to losing any limbs I really care about (I also spend no time wondering exactly how much blood a person could lose before she would be a less effective fighting machine - math is for people not as primed for a fight as I).

So the stick in the first picture was what I settled on (albeit long after I had lost sight and sound of my attacker - presumably he found a nice squirrel to torture). And, I won't joke, for a good fifteen minutes I was in super fight/flight mode. My pulse was up, I tasted metal, and I prepped myself heavily for the coming battle. I reached high ground quickly and surveyed the area below, assessing all possible routes of ascent. The good news is that when the threat of imminent ouchiness was deemed neutralized, I was up on top of high ground able to look at the pretty bits of nature that surrounded me.

I can't decide, in retrospect, if hiking alone in an unfamiliar place is a horridly stupid idea, or if thinking that what essentially amounted to a solo walk on a marked trail in a state park is a stupid idea is an even stupider idea. The good news is that I found a pretty and large (4000 acres) green area nearby that I can explore further as the weather improves. And I can arm myself with the greatest weapon of them all: devoted partner.

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