Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Looking Back from December 2010

  Christmas isn't a whole lot of fun when nobody even knows your name. Tory was with me that first year, and again in '96. other than those years, Christmas was a thing to hide from. I usually told people I had plans and then went off into the desert. All that changed, those last few years, when I lived in the forest.
      The weather would drive me down from the mountains to the Verde River Valley in September, with the exception of '04 when I tried to hang at the desert lakes outside Phoenix. Even then, I managed to get to the Verde for the Holidays. Most years, I would wake alone in the Valley, but friends always rolled in throughout the day.
      I could always count on Grizz to show up with some fantastic grass, often with Lee. You just don't find good friends like them everyday. Other people would roll into camp, day trippers, all friends that I sometimes wouldn't see all year. Last year I went back and saw darn near the whole old Verde crew.
      Those years in the forest, those people I met-sometimes weekly, sometimes yearly-did something good to me. The holidays at the river, especially, helped make me feel more real than I had in years; softened me to humanity where I had grown hard.
      I rediscovered the joy that I had lost on the long journey to anonymity. I believe that regaining that joy was an important element in earning my freedom. I told Tory, when I first left Muncie, that I could see that I was going to lose a part of myself. You don't undertake a journey like mine without paying some price. I wanted her to know from the outset, that I was likely to lose many of the qualities that she appreciated about me. I knew it was going to be a difficult task to become whole again.
      I don't know what she thought about that, I don't think she really believed me. Back in those days she gave me too much credit sometimes. Turns out, I underestimated the degree to which I would lose myself in fear and despair. Funny now, looking back. I can see that when I  hit my lowest point and chucked it all to live in the forest, (committing myself to the whims of the universe if you will), the healing would finally begin. When I had nothing left to lose, I gained everything.


  1. I just read your interview on disinfo--fascinating story! I was wondering if in all your time out in the wild you learned any tricks or discovered any natural ways to repel insects/insect bites...

  2. A diet with no sugar will go a long way to keeping away bees and many biting bugs. Eating garlic helps too. Mosquitos and most biting flies are adverse to garlic. Basically, don't smell attractive to them. I've kept safe from attack when fishing by smoking, or having a smoky fire. On the river, There's a creature called a Cedar Gnat that is hardier than most and immune to regular mehods. I'd wear Skin So Soft by Avon if I could get it, and still they would bite, I just wouldn't be horribly disfigured.

  3. Thanks for the info. Sugar eating is definitely one of my issues that's probably getting me bit a lot... I do have some skin so soft but I'm trying to stay clear of deet products; I don't quite trust that stuff & it barely works anyway, at least for chiggers which is what I mostly deal with in my outdoor job in the summer. Thanks again for responding...

  4. I didn't even think about Chiggers. I was picking blackberries as a child in Ohio and a friend got them real bad but I didn't. It was terrible for him. Have you tried Tea Tree oil? Chiggers don't just bite or sting but they INFEST. Tea Tree oil works well preventing or curing all kinds of insect infestations.

  5. I live in Ohio! I'll have to give the Tea Tree oil a try... Thanks!