In need of a survival trip

For years Michael has wanted to go canoeing, so this little get away next to Gudenåen (the longsest stream of flowing water in Denmark) is actually last year’s anniversary gift from me to him.

We brought our brand-new gas grill. That is also an anniversary gift from last year. We are going to barbecue some slices of a neck roast from a fallow deer. The day we were leaving I finally managed to find a butcher willing to slice up the frozen roast for me. It has been the plan ever since Michael came home with two(?) fallow deer in the back of the car with the backseats laid down to make them fit in.

Most hunters can figure out according to the hunting season, that this fallow deer was probably not harvested this year. But trust me… it is not from last year either. For neither Rome nor anything else is build in one day at our place! In this way I guess we are like many other couples. Life is happening. Contrary to the bank account the calendar is getting full all by itself! Seasons change. A new hunting season begins and suddenly almost a year is gone! By a miracle this weekend was completely blank!! So the opening in the calendar and definitely not the weather forecast became an essential decision making factor in our planning.

There is probably lot of good reasons that Denmark is not really cut for spontaneous overnight stays in the wilderness for people like us with a roof tent on the car. First, there is not much wilderness left. Camping on public area is not allowed. The state-owned campgrounds have no access for cars to avoid RV’s. And most of the many options for RV’s are often on asphalt. That leaves us with the well-established camping solutions where you camp shoulder to shoulder with everyone else. Been there, done that.

But we are lucky enough to know somebody who knows somebody, who are willing to share their beautiful and natural surroundings with us.

In our own opinion we have become quite good at packing for these weekend trips. That is, I packed while Michael was working. I am often doing seven things at the same time when packing and it happened that we left with everything but my own bags. Yup! No clean clothes for changing, shampoo, or toothbrush for me… But this time I guess we remembered everything except asking about the toilet facilities… I have not thought of it before. The dilemma between either having us in and out of the house several times a day or the less elegant solution of having their guests digging holes for the purpose on their private property!
But the problem was solved when we were introduced to the 5-star homemade wilderness latrine with a fantastic view of the surrounding fields, and the fact that I did remember to bring toilet paper.

It does not require a lot of stuff to turn a trip like this into a success and sometime soon I will write about just that. But when it comes to Michael you will get along way with a Trangia, coffee, beer and a Thermacell mosquito repeller. He rarely goes anywhere outdoors without it!

But this time I have done a little extra when it comes to the food compared to the usual “dinner I an jar”: I marinated two slices of the fallow deer neck roast in fresh garlic, rosemary and thyme from the garden with chilli, olive oil and soy sauce and made potato salad. I picked strawberries and made batter for pancakes for dessert. And I have packed wine and snacks made dough to bake fresh bread for breakfast, all to be done on the grill.

This is in no way a survival trip, or maybe that is exactly what it is…

The last couple of months have been emotional intense for both of us. I had the honor of walking with a friend on the last part of the journey of life. A beautiful, tough, very raw and real journey. The other day we said our last goodbye.
I needed to get away and make room for thoughts and body to adjust to the next and different chapter that lies ahead. Death and the loss of someone we cared about, leaves us with a strong sense of the fragility of life and a deep gratitude for life, the light and for having each other.

But in these vulnerable moments there is a thin line between being grateful for what you have and being worried and anxious for losing what is important to you. The fear of losing my best friend and the one who keeps our family together is real. That kind of worry has the capacity to consume all joy of life with the ones I do have.

Whether you believe in everything the Bible says or not, I have found treasures of truth in there, that is worth noticing. One that I especially am holding onto right now is when Jesus says that looking at the birds and the flowers is a good response to worry. So that is what we do this weekend!

Two nights in the roof tent on a field next to the stream of Gudenåen. Two canoe trips. What peace and beauty! So many yellow water lilies flow like giant buttercups in the water and a few of the prettiest classic white water lilies. Cozy ducks and majestic Herons are not a rare sight when we glide through the water in our squeaking canoe. 4-5 times, we even saw the sharp blue color of the back of the shy Kingfisher when we came too close.

They are pro-active and react to their surroundings, but I bet none of them really spend any energy worrying about tomorrow…

Slow living is good for your soul. The only action really was when Michael almost lost his cap in a fight with a mosquito! Several times Michael reminded me that we were in no rush. We just need to be. Right here. He did it when we were leaving home as well as when we are sitting under the overhang from the rooftent, sheltered from the rain, trying to fix some lunch while water is boiling for coffee on the Trangia. Everything is a little more troublesome, but it is okay things take time. We have no need to rush. Only to appreciate life and the light and each other.

The rain decided when we would bother to get up and also the perfect time for a nap. When I must get ready for work, I forget to enjoy the long Nordic summer nights, where you can sit outside after 10:30pm and it is not even dark yet. A bonfire is the most fantastic excuse to do absolutely nothing but enjoy life with my best friend.

A lot is said and written about mental health. Michael has always been clear about the fact that this effect of hunting is one of the main motivators for getting out there. Even if he does not shoot anything or if he already shot what the freezer can contain.

What nature is doing to him is good and even vital to life. And I can say the same. Just to get quiet and listen to something else than the loudest thought. Or maybe become quiet enough to actually feel what is going on inside. Waking up in the roof tent to the sound of the rain, the cuckoo and a mixed symphony of birdsong is the best medicine for the soul I can imagine.

Maybe it is better to get out there for a shorter time but regularly, like frequently going hunting, than getting to the point where you need a “mental survival trip”. I think we will make time for another buckhunt before the buck season is over. Not for the sake of freezer, but for the sake of the soul.

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