The sandstone rim across the stream cuts a dark edge against the silver sky. I crawl out of my sleeping bag to start the coffee water. My boots and socks are still wet from yesterday’s adventures. I pad barefoot to the kitchen against the big boulder. I kneel and pump the stove, it ignites, I grind fresh coffee. Moments after the hum, sun transmutes the dark rim to a warm glow. The zipper from the other tent further undoing the stillness. A dishevelled apparition emerges, a reminder of a long night of storytelling and too many whiskeys.
Chores in hand I hobble down the rough path to the stream. I choose a perfect spot to splash my face, two sole-friendly stones a hearts width apart and dry. Across the stream, pink light unfurls above the haze of trees, ancient roots curl from the undercut bank and drift on the purling water. I splash my face with cold water, good morning, morning.
My companions join me, three of us lined up as motionless and attentive herons along a fish whispering riffle – morning flowing through us, all motion, all stillness, numb feet and rose-coloured eyeballs, an ear full of bird chatter, breath of trees and peppermint toothpaste. Oh, and the coffee.
I head back to the camp. Bunched in a pool of filtered sunshine, my companions hold out their cups, smiling. On this third morning in wilderness, we seemed to have arrived.
A new day, new stories to make.
I have always chosen my companions carefully, sage advice from an old friend long since freed from his mortal coil. I learned that someone’s value to a extended trip can be determined by their storytelling skills – lingering on the details, timing, describing and interpreting the setting, a touch of embellishment, waiting as long as possible before saying the obvious – skills that are not frivolous.
Storytelling is part of the culture.
All images and copy in this post are copyright Peter Brigg © 2018. All rights reserved