Calm and Quiet

I’m still here at Savage River State Forest, sitting in a camp chair overlooking the rushing creek at the back of our site. I’m watching a water thrush hop from one moss-covered rock to another. He has a long, fluffy, white insect in his beak. I feel too lazy to pick up the binoculars to find out what kind of insect. I did ask Tracy what kind of bird.

We’ve had no errands here: no groceries, no laundry. No routine, because no three-times-a-day long dog walks (no trails). No internet, no cell. No Washington Post. No one but us.  Sometimes we talk together, and sometimes we don’t.

There is the sound and the movement of the creek. A few small animals on the forest floor. The sunlight coming all the way down through the high green leaves to warm up a certain spot in the clearing by us. Then clouds that make us wonder about rain, and the sun revealing a new bright patch. That’s it.  Water, light. And wet earth in the morning. 

What Are We Finding to Do? 

Tracy wanders the woods right around us, examining the ground at his feet, then stopping to flip through a field guide he carries in his pocket. He found bear scat. 

He sits by the creek and looks up at the tree ranches.  He reads, and naps. He moves the portable solar panel when a sunny spot reappears in a new place,

I pick up the ukulele and make terrible sounds because no one can hear me. I workout. I read and I nap. I move the solar panel.

Banjo moves to new sunny spots.

Tracy and I both check the display panels in the Airstream that tell us the levels in the fresh water and waste tanks, plus the power stored in the batteries. We pay attention to how much of everything we use. We pat ourselves on the back that we’re conserving better than we’d expected.

We plan together what to cook according to what’s been in the fridge the longest. Outside by the stream, we wait for the other person to sit before we start eating. 

We keep the blinds up inside the Airstream so we can watch the campfire as it dies down at night out one window and then watch the day begin to brighten out another.  We wear the same clothes each day, adding and taking off layers. We leave our shoes outside all night. 

One Trip Out

We did get in the truck this morning to find a trail to hike. 

The first one was a bust: we had to wade back and forth through the same cold stream as the trail serpentined across it. On the walk back, an off-leash dog ran up to Banjo, whose hackles went up thickly from her collar down to her bushed-out tail. The dog’s owner finally walked up just when it seemed a fight was going to erupt. That was too much excitement.

The next trail led us along the Savage River, plus its dam and reservoir. We climbed up and up, then looked down on the tops of the trees we’d just climbed through. All else was obscured below us. 

Banjo was still worked up and broke her leash. I had cell coverage at the top so I texted Finn. 

Enough. Back to the campsite.


When it rains, we play cards together under the light of a camping lantern, throwing in the occasional trash talk to get a laugh from each other. 

Tonight it’s clear, so we’ll make a campfire and brown marshmallows at the end of long sticks that I know Tracy will find and whittle deliberately. I’ll play some simple songs on the uke in the dark.  Banjo will curl up in a ball on her bed by the fire, and Tracy will bring over a new log after awhile. 

Calm and quiet.  

p.s.: This is for sure my last entry from Maryland; I know because I’m posting it from the truck on the way to Ohio.  Talk to you from there.

3 thoughts to “Calm and Quiet”

  1. This was great! I savored every word! I love the salamander photo and the rainbow of color around banjos pic. This was beautiful!