My wifes mother died early this year. She was a collector who lived just up the street from us for almost twenty years. The last seven months of our lives has been about stuff. Lots of hers and some of ours. Weve carried truck loads of it to the recycle depot, the thrift store and the Habitat for Humanity ReStorea shop for used building materials. Weve given away bunches to neighbors. Corvallis Antiques sold lots of it before and during an estate sale.
Our floors are being refinished. We painted the ceiling and walls first. The living room, dining room and hallway were stripped of furniture, curtains, wall art and baseboards. It not only stinks in that center part of the house, it echoes. The floors are curing and giving off gas now. We can walk through those rooms, but it gives me a headache to remain. So Im turned out of our house.
Time for an adventure.
For the first time since college sophomore year, I went camping on my bicycle without support. I hauled all my own camping and cooking gear. It worked. I didnt take much. It was only an overnight turnaround to Armitage Park. About 37 miles there. I returned on a hilly routeto show myself I could do it, so the return was 60 miles or so.
Armitage Park still has the classic picnic grounds of my childhoodeven if theyve built a freeway bridge over the top of one end of it. It now has a campground, which I knew about, but hadnt seen. It was filled with large recreational vehiclessome of them towed by semi-truck tractors. Several pulled box trailers behind them, from which classic cars would emerge. With a bicycle, cargo trailer and seven foot diameter tent, I felt out of place. I didnt have the amenities the campground expected me to be carrying. No electrical plug. Nothing to hook up to the sewer connection. No shower. Nothing to provide myself any shade on a very hot day. But I did have a stove. I could easily carry my book to the shade of a tree to cool off while reading. The McKenzie River flows right by the park, with some pools to soak in.
Grace always comes to my meals, but whenever I observe her, shes a few moments late. So I wait expectantly, thankful for her arrival and the opportunity to remember her. I was waiting for her before dinner at Armitagefreeze dried chili mac and fresh cucumber. Once again, it was opened to me how this is enough. All that I had was all that I needed right then. Water, simple meal, warmth, simple surroundings.
For the trip, I had packed as little as I thought I could manage. I had enough. Amazingly, I used each piece that I packed, except the extra matches, the rain fly for the tent and the cycle repair stuffall the items I bring but hope not to use. I hadnt expected to use my warm hat, overshirt and water resistant warmup jacket. After a brisk float down the McKenzie yesterday morning, I needed them.
It was enough. Enough to remember how little I need.