Sunday, February 14, 2010

Nice things for the pack

"He still hopefully carried some of his gear in his pack: a small tinder-box, two small shallow pans, the smaller fitting into the larger; inside them a wooden spoon, a short two-pronged fork and some skewers were stowed; and hidden at the bottom of the pack in a flat wooden box a dwindling treasure, some salt."
p. 330, The Two Towers

One of the reasons I'm enjoying this re-reading of Lord of the Rings is because I can immerse myself more thoroughly in the characters' experience, having gone in the 'wild' myself with nothing but a pack and a sturdy pair of shoes*.  I thoroughly empathize with Sam Gamgee's sentiments over some of the contents of his pack.  While you're in the woods (thankfully nowhere near as bleak as as the outskirts of Mordor), you quite literally carry everything you need on your back. And sometimes more.

Being far from the comforts of home and running water, your perspective shifts.  You realize that, in the woods, some things are nice to have, but not essential. Forget your spoon? Eat with your fingers. Forget your hat? You'll be shivering (or, like me, feeling cold as death). Other things are essential. Forget your water sterilizer? You're in trouble. Forget your second pair of socks?  Blisters will make those miles between you and your next shelter feel like an eternity.

Little wonder that we obsessively pack and re-pack.

Everything we packed

*just a few days at the time, mind you.

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