Sunday we opted out. For the day, at least. No news, no email, not even plucking a weed from the vast half acre of our existence. The wars will go on, people will shoot each other, the President will go to the can, major criminals will enjoy a cook-out, but we won’t be there. It’s their loss, not ours. We went camping.
We’ve spent many nights under canvas. Our first trip to Europe in 1969— except for a week in a London B&B, four days in an Irish castle, and one overnight in a Polish hotel—we were three months in a pup tent. Same the next year, and other years thereafter. In the States, lots of festivals, odd weekends here and there, and since coming to California the destination has usually been Salt Point.
It’s a state park and campground on the coast about two hours north. We stoked the cats with plenty of water & food, explained that we’d be coming back and they could babysit each other for 24 hours. We took a picnic lunch for the seashore and Cornish hens for supper, a roomier tent than in the early days, and of course my iPad—I could let go my oversight of U.S. foreign policy but not my rewrite of Chapter 22.
In fact I never touched Chapter 22—the world will have to wait. The trees, the sky, and the waves crashing, sending their spray high above the rocks—well, I took some stunning action photos but got impressive images of my thumb.
But it’s not the photos we go for, it’s the presence of the ocean itself: twenty feet away as we eat picnic and stare, a few hundred yards away as we sleep. It’s being in the presence of the womb. Not a warm, motherly womb, but a birthgiving tumult of unimaginable force—so frightful in its healing roar. Takes me back, for a moment, to a line in Chapter 22, in fact: “that moment when you squeeze out of the birth canal and get the fluorescents full blast and think, Oh crap, now I’m in for it.”
And we’re always IN FOR IT, always have been. We go back to the news, the cavortings in high public office, the bombs falling, the daily grind, the multifarious hemorrhoids of life. But it doesn’t take much—just an afternoon and a night—to remind me of the inexorable and blessed tide of life.