I considered turning the truck around so it was ready to pull out. Had I done that first, packing up the camp could have been easier, but I didn’t see a convenient place to turn the truck and trailer around on the dirt road. I then realized he must have the keys, so it didn’t matter anyway.
I tended to the fire, keeping it going until he returned. The knife laid out ready to clean the fish, the grill waited to fry them, the water jug stood nearby, and the plates sat near the fire with forks and bottles of water on them. I double-checked the bag of food, which still contained the chocolate, several of which had slid out of the package, a bag of marshmallows, two more lemons, the pepper, and the graham crackers. I opened up the package of crackers and began nibbling without him.
Feeling all of the breakfast preparatory tasks checked off the list, I thought about the previous day and how alone I felt when I was at the creek by myself. I briefly considered joining him there, but I would have to extinguish the campfire, and I wasn’t even certain he would have returned to the same spot. Or that he would even want company, much less mine.
I retrieved my sketch book from the truck and tried to capture an image of our camp, even if the tents and gear were gone. As I drew, I visualized all the other scenes I might have penciled from the weekend on the blank pages. The stacks of wood in the trailer still struck me as organized and controlled and their image permeated my mind, teasing my occasional OCD tendencies. Of course, the scene on the mountain, with the color and the sunset and the distant formations would have been another image worth sketching. Truthfully, any of the natural environments in this area would be ideal, and since I was horrible at sketching humans, recording scenes without his presence proved easier.
Maybe that was the secret crux of this weekend. Maybe I didn’t need him to enjoy the mountains, to hike through the forest, or to even catch a fish or build a fire. I could set up my tent myself and I could break down camp. I might need to purchase a grill, but that would be easy enough, and I could also get a frying pan so I might scramble eggs over a fire rather than just carry them around in a cooler. My next weekend in the forest would be without him and now I looked forward to heading home, getting my apartment in order, and one day soon, spending an overnight in these beautiful mountains, my mountains – I loved the sound of that – without the Lumberjack, or without dependence on anyone. The thought excited me, and I began to consider where in the forest I would explore next.