Sitting in his doctor’s office reading a National Geographic, a New York stockbroker felt compelled to conquer something other than a portfolio. Thinking of his view of the Hudson River from his apartment in River Place Towers on 42nd Street, he decided to try a primitive nature experience. He signed up for a seven-day wilderness awareness class. He had never been camping.
On day one, he walked into the primitive camp still carrying the hectic pace and stresses of his life in the Big Apple. His vision was tunneled, his awareness remained clouded, and his mind raced like the wind.
On day two, he built a debris hut in the woods from branches, pine needles, and scrub oak leaves. Exploring the cedar swamps, his vision broadened as he noticed the squirrels, meadowlarks, and blooming wild raspberry bushes.
On day three, he touched the sticky sap on the bark of a Ponderosa pine tree. It smelled like vanilla. The wind whistled through the sweet grass, and the chickadees sang from across the pond. Hearing this for the first time, his shoulders lowered and his jaw relaxed. He sat for hours and listened.
On day four, a downy woodpecker woke him as it drummed on a tree next to his shelter. He went for a nature walk and discovered an area covered in light green moss. It felt like velvet. He sat on a log next to a babbling brook. No thoughts of his life back in New York entered his mind.
On day five, he took part in a sweat lodge and afterward sat staring at the stars. He was absorbing things he had never been taught, hearing nature in a way he had never heard before. He felt as though he was in the prime of life.
On day six, he heard God’s voice. They talked for hours.
On day seven, he went home. Transformed.
Sue Halvorsen is a naturalist who loves to combine nature with spirituality. She lives with her husband, Scott, in Colorado. She enjoys writing in several genres and is currently working on a memoir about a near-death experience she had 24 years ago. She is currently a creative writing student at Red Rocks Community College in the Denver, Colorado area.