Whoosh! Issue 35 - August 1999
Editor's Page

From the Graphics Editor: THE NIGHT OF THE SUMMER BREEZE

From the Graphics Editor: THE NIGHT OF THE SUMMER BREEZE

It's summer. Re-run time. I don't know about you, but this summer, I pretty much switched off my television completely. This has been a good thing. I'll appreciate XENA and HERC a lot more later this year, and since I've already seen all the eps at least once, there's no harm in getting away from video screens (both TV and computer varieties) for a break. In fact, I highly recommend it.

Due to family business, I've had to travel around a lot this summer and as a result have spent time in a few places I might never have done. Glad I did. Now don't get me wrong, I love my family dearly, but I can only spend time with people, even family, for a short time before I just have to get away on my own for a bit.

This wanderlust has been with me since I was a kid. Maybe I only need to get out for an hour or two walk. But (mumble, mumble) years ago, I was also known to occasionally fill up a backpack, park at the base of the Sierra Nevada mountains, and return only after the food ran out. This might be three or four days, or it might be as many weeks, depending on the weather and how successful I was at foraging.

Until three years ago, it's been (mumble, mumble) years since I've done any outdoor stuff with regularity. Although camping for me is still regarded as staying at a two-star hotel, I can handle long day trips pretty easily. Indeed, I really enjoy them.

Here are some things I learned as recently as this summer:

Boy Scout training comes back pretty quickly. I found myself equipped with basic necessities almost out of habit -- compass, knife, first-aid kit, sunscreen, canteen, others. It's lighter to carry than it was (mumble, mumble) years ago. Proper clothing is essential. Cotton breathes. Hiking boots are a must. Bring a hat.

If you forget your camera, you will be rewarded with amazing images. You will kick yourself for not bringing the camera, but you'll still have cool things to look at. You can try to draw what you see in your notebook. If you can draw, that is. I can't.

If you forget your umbrella, it will almost certainly rain. If you bring your umbrella, it will almost certainly not rain while you're out.

As you hike through the countryside, you may come across a 19th century deserted farmstead, in an unexpected clearing in the woods. You will sit for hours and contemplate it, wondering who lived there and why they left. You may also find remnants of what they planted in their gardens. You will hear the sounds of local birds and wildlife on the outskirts of the deserted farm, as if they are calling to the people who lived there. You will kick yourself for not having your camera.

There are few things more delicious than wild berries in season and some milk you made from instant powder and water from a mountain stream so cold it makes your hand numb if you keep it submerged for more than a few seconds.

Medical treatment for poison ivy has improved radically since (mumble, mumble) years ago, but you should still avoid getting it. Helpful hint: even if you're smart enough not to touch it directly, it will stick to your clothing if you brush against it. So when you touch those clothes, you'll get it too.

If there's fish in a pond, I won't starve. I can't catch them by hand like Xena does, but I can still pond fish conventionally pretty well. Conversely, even if there are a bajillion trout in the stream, I *will* starve, because those I can't seem to catch.

I'm ashamed to say I rather like deer meat (a cousin hunts them in season and freezes the meat in the off-season, making deer products from steaks to jerky).

Skunks are cute and curious little critters. But there are obvious dangers and risks (which I did avoid).

I can still track a deer. I cannot, however, take that picture of mamma deer and child because I have no bloody camera.

Moose stink pretty bad up close.

Avoid insanity by refusing to purchase a bird identification book before you are 65 years old. Appreciate them just for being birds. Save yourself hours and hours of frustration by trying to figure out which particular sub-variety a bird is, from a book that has pages falling out of it because it's been used so much. Avoid overhearing the folowing conversation with yourself -- "Wait, he had *that* distinguishing marking (points to picture A) *and* this distinguishing marking (points to picture B)."

I'm not sure which is more beautiful -- a field of oats waving in a gentle summer breeze with the sun high in a cloudless sky, or the same thing under a bright full moon.

There are way too many bugs out there.

Contrary to popular belief, not all wildlife is more scared of you than you are of it.

It is difficult, though not impossible, to cut yourself on a soup can lid such that it requires four stitches courtesy the local emergency room.

And I leave you with three very important words of advice for the summer woodsman: CHECK FOR TICKS.

Bret Rudnick
Graphics Editor
Executive Committee
Boston, Massachusetts
05 July 1999

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