Unknown Fears (Fiction)

10-9 Grass

Stacy brushed her hand over her bare calf to swat away whatever tickled her skin. They swished through knee-high grasses encroaching on the skinny dirt trail leading to the “perfect camping spot.” Those were her boyfriend’s words- not hers.

At that moment, Kenny turned and smiled. “Keeping up okay?”

She glared, even though he couldn’t get the full effect through her dark sunglasses. “Are we almost there?”

“Another half mile, I think.” He turned and continued on the path.

Stacy shifted the pack and winced when she moved the strap that had been digging into her hip for the last two hours. Her friends thought she was nuts for agreeing to go on this trip, but she had a feeling he planned to propose. After dating for three years, she didn’t want to miss it. Still, she couldn’t figure out what gave him the impression she would enjoy this.

Nearly an hour later they stopped and peered down an embankment.

“I’ll help you down,” he said, offering his left hand.

She shook her head. “It’s too steep. Can’t we just set up the tent here?”

“On the trail?” He laughed. “You can do this.”

“I don’t think my shoes are grippy en-“

He tugged her down the slope before she could finish her protest.

A few feet from flat ground, she lost her footing. Kenny’s body broke her fall. “Sorry,” she muttered before rolling to the side. The momentum flipped her onto her back.

He gasped a few breaths. “There. We made it.” He pointed to the left, toward a thicket of scrub oak trees. “We can camp there.”

Stacy felt like a turtle overturned on its shell since her abdominal muscles couldn’t right her while strapped to a thirty-pound pack. Grateful, she accepted his extended hand and ignored the barely-stifled snicker.

After they pitched the tent, he cooked pork and beans over a campfire. As he cleaned the dishes, she paused to listen to the creek. She watched the water rush over rocks, creating mini whitecaps. She had to admit; it was pretty here. She turned toward a scraping noise behind her and saw Kenny hoisting their packs into a tree with a rope he’d thrown over a sturdy branch. “What are you doing?”

He paused. “Stowing our packs.”

“Why not put them in the tent?”

“Bears.” He grunted as he threw his weight into a pull.

“Bears?” Panic edged into her voice.

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Creek Lessons

When we go camping, my goal is to bring tons of snacks, but leave the heavy thinking at home.  Invariably, as my body assumes a vegetative state, my brain decides to shift into creative mode.  Don’t get me wrong, I’m grateful when I think of workable ideas, but me being the picky person I am, I’d rather it be when I wasn’t too lazy to get paper and pen.

After a half-mile hike into Oak Creek Canyon, I rested with my legs in the chilly creek water.  While the kids searched for fish, I sat on a large rock and closed my eyes.  I listened to the roar of the water and wind blowing through the trees.  That’s when it started.

Any other time (like when I desperately need it) my brain lies dormant.  But in this moment when I wanted to do nothing, I had the urge to take pictures; to observe.  A blog post took form during those couple hours by the water.  The creek became my teacher.  I can’t wait to repeat the class 🙂  Here are a few things I learned:

Sometimes things are rough,

but calm awaits up ahead.

Sometimes we don’t get what we want.

Kiddos went fishing, but caught crabs instead.  Wait, that sounds bad. Oh, just check out one of the crustaceans they found!

Sometimes we get what we asked for, but it’s not what we expected.

Kiddos hoped for a fish you could see without a magnifying glass. This guy might be small, but it’s still a fish!

A Sedona tan is only temporary.

No, it’s not a corpse; it’s my legs after my “Sedona tan” (i.e., red dirt) washed off. I miss that dirt…it took the glare off my skin 🙂

In The Wild

I love being out in nature when we go camping, but I have to admit, I prefer when nature keeps its distance.  I squeal when bees fly around me, I gasp when I find a giant spider scurrying along the pine needles and I get a little nervous when I hear forest noises for which I cannot identify an owner.  Even with my fears and apprehension, I still respect God’s creatures that dwell in the forest.

I am pleased that my children appreciate nature, too.  They do not destroy the habitat or intentionally harm the creatures.  (Although when we came across a large beetle I knew from my childhood as a “stink bug”, my younger son did ask if he could kill it to see if it really stinks.  The answer was “no”.  I didn’t tell him that I had firsth-hand experience because I was a wretched child and crushed a few.  I do regret my childhood actions.)

Before we went on a hike on Friday, I told the kids I wanted to get pictures of things that lived in the forest.  It was a living scavenger hunt of sorts, and some of the things they found, I’d have slept better not knowing about them.  The good news:  we didn’t find any black bears or mountain lions!

I hope you enjoy the slideshow of what we did capture digitally!

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Genesis 1:26 – Let us make man in our image, in our likeness, and let them rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air, over the livestock, over all the earth, and over all the creatures that move along the ground.

Catch And Release

No lizards were harmed, or tails lost, in this capture.

It wasn’t the first time.

He’d caught lizards in the wild before.

Patiently stalking.

Carefully handling.

Expertly studying.

Admiring the creature

before returning it to nature.


No, it wasn’t the first,

Nor will it be the last.

On the hunt for new creatures to study


This Trifecta entry was inspired by my older son, who’s quite the nature child.  I can’t tell you how many insects I’ve found in baggies, snap-top plastic dishes and water bottles.  My mantra has become “ask first before opening.” 🙂  We’re fresh off a weekend camping trip, which provided the pictures for this poem.   An added bonus?  I doubt there are going to be many (any?) other lizard poems for the Trifecta weekend writing challenge, which is:

“Complete the following story in 33 words:  ‘It wasn’t the first time.’  (The five words are not to be included in your 33 words)”

If you want to submit your own entry, check out the Trifecta website (by clicking on the tricycle picture) to see complete information.

Leave No Trace

Leave No Trace

We head to nature

To get away,

To take a break

From our hectic lives.

We bring our comforts –

Coolers of drinks,

Stuff for snacking –

Chips, burgers and s’mores.

When it’s time to go

Some leave their mess;

A sign of disrespect

To both land and life.

Pieces of garbage circled in red
On our last camping trip, we gave the kids bags and asked them to fill the bags with trash that they found near our campsite.  This follows the Cub Scout rule of leaving an area better than we found it (also referred to as “Leave no trace.”)
Collected trash (doesn't include the bag of our own garbage)

While I appreciated the fact the boys kept busy while we packed up, it makes me sad they found this much trash.  In fact, there was still more to be retrieved, but we couldn’t stay any longer.  Is it fair that wildlife has to deal with our waste left behind?

The LORD God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it. (Genesis 2:15)