Outdoor Lesson Poem by Bill Galvin

Outdoor Lesson

Rating: 5.0

Outdoor Lesson

Drafted summer 1975; completed 2014

Alone. Searching.
Natural clues I have finally found.
The bio-remains of an experience four years old.
A decaying pile of scattered boughs cut green
From those nearby firs for warmth on that cold autumn eve.

The eve that found us wandering in the darkened wood,
Adrift in our unknowing of the immutable laws of Nature.
A day hike begun too late for a day for October in Maine.

In this small clearing, already quietly regrowing into the forest,
I remember the fears of that naïve outdoorsman,
The nervous confidence of the little knowledge he had,
And the lessons learned from a long night of discomfort.

The chill blows in off the water as it did that night,
When we were clad in only day hiking light clothing,
With feet wet from crossing an unseen brook
With a child on each back.
The boys did well with faith in their parents,
And the parents did well in calm concern.

I find the tall evergreen that I used to time the stars
As they moved slowly, ever so slowly, across the night sky.
Facing east.
The horizon of hills across the bay where I watched eagerly,
Ever so eagerly, for first glimmers of dawn light.

The hills with houses reflecting lights which reflected warmth
And comfort and living souls inside.
Ones who knew nothing of our predicament,
And could do nothing if they did.
The night deepens as the lights go out one by one.
So near, yet light years away.

I find the three firs which gave of their boughs to warm the family,
Stunted now for their offering then, yet healthfully replenished.

The two boys,7 and 5, had nestled into each arm of their mother,
Lying as they were against a smooth angled stone pillow.
No complaints could be heard as they, covered in fresh cut boughs,
Relaxed without dinner into deep sleep after a day of steep trails.

My anxieties keep me alert.
The rustling in the dark, the pair of eyes reflecting what starlight there was,
The sounds of wooded night scenes rarely heard.
I, without knife, food, matches, flashlight, warm clothing, or experience,
Keep vigil all the night long.

The next morning's light found us in a most desirable setting,
On a slope with the bay 100 feet east,
That brook 50 feet south and flowing into the bay,
And the trail we searched for to get back to our car
Only 50 feet west and behind us.

An early lobsterman checking his traps yards away remained unaware,
But was a comforting sign of how close civilization was to us.

It was an easy one mile hike back to the car, and warm rented cabin beds.

It was then that it seemed like a predestined wandering,
Meant as a life lesson of sorts.
A valuable one for every upcoming outdoor meander.

I always knew I had to retouch this place.
And after many searches I had finally found it.

We never will know when, where or how a life lesson will be learned.

Wednesday, December 31, 2014
Topic(s) of this poem: learning
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