Have you ever shared photos or stories of your transformative outdoor adventures and felt like the listeners (or non-listeners, as the case may be), just didn't get it?
They just don't appreciate the profound beauty and grandeur of the outdoors, you might tell yourself smugly. Not like me. They may be weak and shallow, but I am strong and deep. Hah!
It's so easy to feel pompous about yourself and what you care about.
A deer fly (it only looks
life-sized). (Image credit: Bruce Marlin/Wikimedia Commons)
Well, I recently celebrated a birthday and as is my semi-official custom, I went for a hike. (I have an until-now, unwritten rule that I run, hike, or both on my birthday. Feel free to analyze.)
This particular birthday I woke to steady rain, loaded up a pack with more than 40 pounds of water (Rainier training), and headed out sans spouse (the babysitter canceled) for a local hike. The hike itself was quite nice, peaceful, despite the water in the air, on my back, and slicking the rocks underfoot.
Then, on the loop back, I hit a short section of old logging road, the rain let up, and a large welcoming party of deer flies began circling my head like low-Earth orbit satellites, then relentlessly diving onto my neck, hair, arms. I managed to kill several, but they were the slow, weak ones. It did nothing to lessen the intensity of the overall assault.
I was forced to run down the trail, water sloshing on my back (40 pounds!), aiming the target zone (my head) for low-hanging leafy branches, waving my trekking poles with one hand, and repeatedly slapping my hat on my own head and neck with the other.
I knew I looked like a maniac. I did not care. If you had been near me I would have begged you to whack every fly as hard as necessary and put all of us out of our misery.
Despite appearances, I was not unhappy.
However, while running on the trail, a little voice started making detached observations from the back of my head: What an interesting way to celebrate one's birthday. Do normal people choose to run around in the woods in the rain, carrying umpteen bottles of
water, while hitting themselves over and over again on the heads, to celebrate their initial
arrival into the world? Probably not. They'd go out for drinks or dinner or do something that at least appears pleasurable. What an odd ritual.
Back at the trailhead I ran in circles in the parking lot while trying
to: stow away my poles, take off my pack, get my keys out of my rain
coat, unlock the car, and dive in without being joined by the one tenacious
fly who'd now followed me for nearly two miles.
This blog could end with a smug summation about birthday wisdom and how I persevered despite annoyances and am a better, stronger, wiser person for facing the challenges of the outdoors (and deer flies) blah blah blah…
But, c'mon, I think we all know who the real hero is in this tale. It's the never-give-up deer fly. Talk about showing who's strong and who's weak.
I wonder if he's recounting a self-satisfied story about me to some other bored deer flies right now: You should have seen it! Everyone else had dropped off or been killed, but I really had her going there, waving her poles and hat all around, like some nut. Hah! Hey, listen up, this is a really good story...