It’s a strange thing- to wander. To not really know where you’re going, or even care for that matter. To just…well…go. One foot in front of the other. It seems strange. Though when I think about it, it shouldn’t.
It seems too often that our lives are completely scheduled out. Work starts at this time. This is what I need to cook for dinner then. The meeting takes place there and then. So on, and so forth. Even on a vacation, things are planned out. It’s a rare, and sometimes never offered opportunity to simply go out and wander. No real plan, schedule, or anything. To just go. To literally live in the moment.
I thought about this as I was doing just that: wandering. Now granted, I didn’t just walk out my front door and zombie-step into oncoming traffic. Nor did I aimlessly drive my car around the bad side of town until I ran out of gas. I at least knew the general area I wanted to wander, and had an idea of what I was doing.
But I did take a moment to look around. I’d been walking for about an hour through this swamp. I was semi-actively looking for pigs with my 30-06 slung over one shoulder and my .45 on my hip. I didn’t, however, really know where I was going. I’d been slowly walking in the direction I thought was north, but I wasn’t too worried about where I was. All I knew I was that I still had some daylight to burn, work was done for the day, and I was wearing so much Deet that I would probably pee Deep Woods Off later that evening.
It was a nice walk though. Even through the heat, I truly enjoyed myself. I slowly weaved my way around large areas of flooded timber, occasionally ducked out of the way of a Golden Orb Weaver web, and kept my head on a swivel for pigs. I hardly noticed that my snake boots were trying to rub a blister to my bone, or that I would suck a mosquito up my nose from time to time. It was just a walk through the swamp with one slow step in front of another. It was pretty freeing to just be out there. As long as I got out of there before dark and didn’t die a shriveled husk of a wildlife technician after the bug spray wore off, I didn’t care how long I was out there or where I ended up.
As uncomfortable as my feet were, it was refreshing to have dry toes on a walk. My usual boots are a Vietnam style military jungle boot that has drains on the sides to let water out…and in. So I confidently walked through water several inches deep without worry, and my inner twelve-year-old even chuckled at the suspicious squishing sounds that the boots made in the mud. I also didn’t have to stare at the ground quite so intensely for snakes. Thus, freeing my eyes to search for pigs and consequently almost trip and die on cypress knees since I was no longer staring at the ground.
Before I really knew it, hours had passed and I had slowly wandered my way out of the swamp and back into the quail woods of the plantation. Lots of pig sign, piggy looking areas, and stump pigs (they’ll fool you every time), but no actual pigs. I suddenly realized where I was and just how far I’d walked. I guess something about not caring what time it was made time actually fly. I was miles from the truck. A few hundred yard walk through a healthy mixture of beauty-berry and blackberry bushes, and I stepped out onto an old road.
I still had no real place to be, and was in no hurry to get there. So with one slow step in front of another, I walked my way down the road and back to the truck. I picked and ate an inordinate amount of blackberries along the way, and thought about how lucky I am to have opportunities to just wander. To cut loose, not care, and go wherever my feet take me. At the end of the day, what’s more strange? To have everything from sun-up to sun-down planned out? Or to wander? Just remember,
Not all who wander are lost.
Contrary to popular belief, not –all- of my hunts are unsuccessful. I’ll leave ya’ll with a sneak peek of an upcoming report: