I lead a double life, of sorts. In Minnesota where home and family are, I live comfortably. That adverb did not apply on our five-day Jeep patrol, battered by Pacific storms that left us wet and shivering, with ice caking our tent several mornings. Contrast is a good thing. Contrast makes us grateful.
Today I might have eaten smoked salmon on non-GMO crackers. Instead, the can of Bush’s Best Baked Beans heated on the cookstove paired nicely with the can of Spam.
Today I might have slept in my 2000-square-foot home. Instead, my 35 square feet of tent kept me dry and snug despite the wind, rain, and just-above-freezing temperatures.
Today I might have stayed dry by foregoing hiking. Instead, I got repeatedly pelted by rain and ice pellets — and got to see a full rainbow spanning the Colorado River, miles from anyone, after taking refuge in a shallow alcove near ancient ruins.
Today, I might have encountered angry short-tempered people stressed by perceived inconveniences of life. Instead, we met tired backpackers carrying all that they needed, humbly grateful for a current weather forecast and a fill of their water bottles.
Today, I might have heard cars, barking dogs, radio. Instead, a peregrine falcon’s unsettled cry alerted us to its presence, our only neighbor for miles and miles.
Today, I might have been looking in my (too-large) closet and wondering what to wear. Instead, I took off the rain-soaked work pants and laid them in the Jeep hoping they’d be dry in the morning. Woolen long johns, a tad damp, kept me warm as I slept. You can have the rest of the closet.
Today, in my other life, I might have used a flush toilet like most Americans. Instead, I dug a 6” cathole under a juniper, left a little organic fertilizer, and packed out the toilet paper to ‘leave no trace.’ Easy.
Today, I might have used a thermostat to regulate ambient temperature. Instead, I took off and put on four different layers to ensure my comfort in rapidly-changing conditions.
Today, I might have been connecting with my friends via email and Facebook. Instead, I hiked nine glorious miles with my beloved, through places that expand our souls.
Tonight, I might be falling asleep on my custom-made queen-sized mattress with Egyptian cotton sheets. Instead, I’m floating an inch above the earth on my Therma-rest, tucked into a down sleeping bag, listening to a canyon wren bidding mortals goodnight.
And life is very, very good.