Many of my friends like to go camping in the woods. I don’t. My wife, Marsha, The Almost Perfect Woman, was a camper.  When she was a child, her father, a teacher who had the summers off, took the family on cross-country camping trips twice. They also took innumerable shorter trips. When she got out of high school she worked for her friend Jay Stager at Maine Teen Camp and Hidden Valley.

Campers like to sleep in a tent in the rain in a cloud of insect repellent. I have heard Marsha tell hair-raising stories of camping with 20 children ages 10 to 13 on the shores of Moosehead Lake for three days in a pouring rain.

Even tougher on the constitution is sailing on a boat among the Maine islands. At the impressionable age of 19 I was inducted into the military and played sailor-man for two whole years, 365 days a year. In that interminable period, I saw more Maine islands and sunsets and sunrises that any boy should ever be dragged out of the rack to see.

It is the same with the picturesque and iconic Maine lighthouse. I see a Maine lighthouse as something that requires endless and exhaustive servicing. Sometimes in a brisk, freezing wind, a rubber pipe must be run ashore in a tender, hooked to an oil tank and kept from destroying the tender or injuring the crew until the tank is pumped full of oil.

Just as delightful is loading 75-pound sacks of coal into a tender, bringing them ashore and then lifting one onto your shoulders and bearing it up a steep path to the lighthouse. Child’s play, you say? Perhaps for a 180-pound boxer, but rough on those of us who at 19 were built like sixth-grade girls.

It is for the same reason that I am not a camper. I was born 100 feet from 60-foot spruce trees and I climbed them all and built treehouses and lived in those woods like an animal during the formative years of my life. Today when I get out of bed and look out the bedroom window, I see woods. No houses. Just woods. I look out the back window and I see woods. No houses. Just woods. The woods belong to me and to Marsha’s oldest granddaughter, and they run back for almost a mile to the salt water. For years I enjoyed cutting down trees and hauling them out and sawing them into boards and beams that I could use on the farm. I enjoyed trimming my trees and cutting off my property lines.

I haven’t been able to get out there to rip and tear for some time now, but that’s OK. Under cover of darkness I put it all in the land trust so I know the woods will be there for others to walk in and hunt in for at least one more generation.

Just today my neighbor Bruce came by. He said he’d come for his hunting seat that he’d left out there the last time he stalked the wild turkey. Tomorrow he needed it to go bear hunting up in The County. I asked him why he was going to shoot a bear, and he said he planned to eat it. I suppose it’s all right to eat anything that can eat you.

I never went hunting. Probably because my mother raised me on “Old Mother West Wind” stories.

And after playing or working in the woods all day, I never had a desire to get a gun and go back out there to shoot something or to spend a night in a tent when only 500 feet away I could sleep in a bug-free bed.

Let me tell you something else about woods. Fifty years ago I kept sheep, and the first time a sheep died I took it out in the woods and buried it in a deep hole. The next day the sheep was gone. In later years when a young calf would die, I would simply take it out in the woods and leave it. The next day it would be gone.  Because I don’t believe in zombies or the walking dead, there were one or two other alternatives that I had to consider. Not one of them made me want to spend the night out there in a tent.

These are things that my city-born camper friends might have heard about only while sitting around flickering campfires, but I have seen them with my own eyes.

So no. I’m not a camper. Never was.

The humble Farmer can be heard Friday nights at 7 on WHPW (97.3 FM) and visited at:
www.thehumblefarmer.com/MainePrivateRadio.html


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