By Phillip Frankford
The Journal Express
---- — I’m not sure if the modern psychotherapy industry has a term to describe my condition so to be on the safe side I went ahead and made one up in case they don’t. What’s wrong with me, you ask? Well personally I say nothing, but some of you who consider yourselves to be more rational than I may beg to differ. It’s almost four O’clock in the morning, or in other words 4 a.m. A portion of you believe this to be very late at night, others consider it very early in the morning and a segment of my readers may have just made the decision that I am indeed crazy to suggest that 4:00 happens twice each day. Before you rush to judgment, let's go on a journey deep into the dark recesses of the mind of an individual who loves the outdoors in all seasons.
This journey is not for the faint of heart. Please make sure you bring extra flashlight batteries and let’s all try to stay together. Remember it’s the antelope that gets too far away from the herd that gets eaten by the wolves.
It about -5 degrees outside with a 20 mph wind out of the Northwest, I’ve just come back inside from blowing the snow out of my driveway and I feel great. I feel like I’ve accomplished something for the day. Even if nothing else good happens today, and nothing else I do has any positive effect on humanity for myself personally or society at large I will rest my head on the pillow tonight with a sense of accomplishment.
I got up while it was still dark out. Dressed in clothing warm enough to keep me completely comfortable in these temperatures, I spent about an hour outside in an environment that is incredibly hostile to the human frame. There wasn’t an emergency that required me to do this, and yet I now know that had there been an emergency I was and am prepared for it. The knowledge that I could venture out into such an environment, do what needed to be done and return safely is incredibly satisfying to me.
One of the few times in my life that I felt death was probable was a night I spent camping with some similarly afflicted friends in the North Woods of Minnesota. We were going on a deer hunt and were sleeping in an outfitters style tent that had a small wood stove inside to help us keep warm. It was the first time they had used this tent and wood stove.
At bedtime we put as much wood as we could into the stove, set the damper to give us maximum use of the wood and all went to sleep. I later found out that the wood would last about two hours. About two hours and fifteen minutes later, I woke colder than I’ve ever been in my life. I lie in my sleeping bag not really able to move, wondering if someone else would wake up and replenish the fire before I froze to death. Fortunately they did. When I could move again I did and inch worm style maneuver without getting out of my sleeping bag and positioned myself in a way that I could put wood in the fire without getting out of my sleeping bag. There I would spend the rest of the nights of our trip sleeping in two hour shifts interrupted by fire feeding duty.
Yet in spite of this perceived near death experience as I survey the memories of this excursion out of the comfort of civilization the regret you might expect is nonexistent. In the place where it might be is the knowledge that I was there and survived and lived to tell the tale. I interacted with the forces of nature on their turf and emerged to tell the tale. I’ve never once asked myself what were you thinking, but the memory of this trip always brings a smile to my heart.
Isn’t that the reason any of us go camping or even venture out on a hike? We put ourselves through a calculated amount of discomfort to be someplace we wouldn’t ordinarily be and experience something that would be otherwise lost to us. Any of us could buy meat at the grocery counter, and yet we go afield in pursuit of wild table fare. Fish can be found for purchase or sale already prepared in many businesses and yet the ones you caught yourself taste the best.
I just recently found a picture of my grandfather and some of his friends from 60 years ago and a hunting trip they went on. Four of them slept in a home-made camper that looked like a gentle breeze would blow it right over. I remember him telling me stories of walking way out into the mountains hunting deer. It must have been cold, but he didn’t talk about the cold. It must have been cramped uncomfortable living conditions, but I never heard that part. Flowing through the filter of years he shared with me a stream of wonderful memories of good times spent in the outdoors with friends who remained friends for a lifetime. I wonder if “Acute Temporary Comfort Rejection Syndrome” may be something I inherited. I’ll have to think about that while I put “Another Log on the Fire”.