There is no question that the stars above shine brilliantly on the clear cool evening. The soft scent of wood fire drifts past my senses from time to time as a cool breeze curls around my neck without moving a leaf in the trees overhead. Cool evenings set off with a warm fire make for a most comforting calm—a calm seldom realized amidst the roar of the gay ghetto.
Sound from the distance roils with calls to friends, waves of laughter, a din of music, rock, house, country, blues all mixed on the breeze as though intended. Passersby, many with dogs on leases pulling eagerly ahead anticipating the next great news lying awaiting discovery by only a nose to the ground, smile or wave or nod or speak and some even drop in for a moment, a sit, a drink, or perhaps even a hope of connection.
The dog lies silently beside me sitting by the warmth of the fire in the dark. A tired pup he is after several days on the road; too many stops at places he doesn't recognize nor cares to give effort to know, perhaps knowing he won't be there long enough to understand the intimacies shared by the regulars. Maybe he knows there are no regulars only traveling pups like him stopping to do only what the human does, and missing the best part of the walk. He has the run of the area now; he won't go out of my sight though I sometimes realize I don't know where he is. I needn't worry; he always knows where I am.
Separation anxiety makes him crazy when left alone and a cage has become the solution to the escalating problem. Clearly he is no better off, yet oddly subdued much as a human prisoner must feel when hopelessness sets in, but I refuse to be controlled any longer by a problem without solution so caged he is when it is my time to be me. Somewhere in a moment past and forgotten I yielded my concern of treating him like the dog he is and built the wall that works for both of us. I am, after all, not Dad but master.
Suddenly quiet fills the night for a moment, the club beat fails between songs and the new song’s thump thump has yet to begin. Laughter, high voices, wind and dogs momentarily disappear into the darkness before once again coming alive like a switch is thrown lighting up the night with the song of gay life in the woods.
Woods can be magical places and camping in them can be mesmerizing in its sights, sounds and scents. Sights obscured by darkness, people walking quietly by unrecognized in the murk of night, sounds carried over still air as the din of day diminishes into quiet, scents of wood smoke, pine trees and meat cooking on some distant unseen grill.
Many find discomfort in the change, feeling a loneliness removed from their urban surroundings and gay stimulation. Lonely the woods are not though alone you may be, for it is an aloneness that’s not loneliness, like an animal among animals.
Wind picks up in a steady breeze rippling the gay flag, furiously spinning the rainbow spinner, driving flames to leap and reach, shaking the tall spires of stately pines, gathering into gusts and fading to calm before roaring once again. In the silence of a lull, rain pings the roof in a soft tapping growing to a constant cacophony of low tones.
Though the pup is giving that ‘I have to go’ look, the steady rain leaves me with little willingness to venture out. Finally relenting a rain jacket covers me, the hood providing a certain warmth along with limited vision in the declining daylight, while an umbrella carried askew covers him wandering from spot to spot, root to root, stump to tree idly sniffing and occasionally looking back as if verifying my interest in the adventure.
Gratefully he looses interest in the information gathering sniff, lifts a leg to mark a bush, scoots forward a few feet to hunch his back and deliver the gold. Now we can retreat to the warmth and dry kicking off shoes and settling into the soft leather of the deep recliner; basking in the luxury of real gay camping, friends from Jones Pond in New York, Sawmill and Camp Mars in Florida, Joe’s Hideaway in New Hampshire, Oz in Georgia and everyone’s dogs. Bring on the rain and bring on the dark, tomorrow waits on the other side of midnight.