Elizabeth Barrette (ysabetwordsmith) wrote,
Elizabeth Barrette

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Poem: "Knowing What Not to Take"

This poem was written outside the regular prompt calls, based on conversations with [personal profile] dialecticdreamer. It also fills the "backpacking" square in my 8-2-19 card for the End of Summer Bingo fest. It has been sponsored by [personal profile] janetmiles. This poem belongs to the Shiv thread of the Polychrome Heroics series.

"Knowing What Not to Take"

[Wednesday, March 25, 2015]

"How do I plan a vacation?"
Shiv blurted as soon as they
sat down on the futon.

"Well, that depends on
the kind of vacation you want
to take," said Dr. G. "What got
this started? Maybe if I know more,
I can help you sort out what you need."

"Dymin makes me do up budgets,"
Shiv said. "She told me to do a year
and I freaked, so she let me put down
just one major thing a month. I thought,
normal people take vacations, and so I
wrote it down for some time in summer.
Only now it's spring and I don't got a plan."

"That's straightforward to fix," Dr. G said.
"What would you like to do on vacation?
Travel somewhere you've never seen?
Look at famous artwork? Visit a zoo?
Ride roller-coasters until you barf?"

Shiv snickered and shook his head.
"No," he said. "I thought maybe
camping? The Atwoods went
all the time, even in the rain.
It didn't totally suck."

"Okay, camping,"
said Dr. G. "You can
do that. Have you ever
gone by yourself before?"

"No," Shiv said. "I never
had a chance. Now I do."

"You sure do," Dr. G said.
"You'll need to pick a place
and choose some equipment.
But camping isn't the first step."

"Then what is?" Shiv wondered.

"Hiking," said Dr. G. "You walk
around Omaha all the time, but
hiking in the woods is different
from walking on sidewalks. If
you don't acclimate yourself,
the results can be unpleasant."

"Okay, so what do I do?"
Shiv said. "I got nothin' here."

"First, think about what kind of places
you'd like to visit," Dr. G said. "Try
to find nearby places where you
can get a feel for similar terrain."

"The woods," Shiv said. "I want
to go out in the woods. I've been
in some before and it's pretty."

"That's a good choice," Dr. G said.
"So you'll need to know how to walk
over tree roots without tripping, and
how to avoid hazards like poison ivy.
You can learn those around here."

Shiv snorted. "Doc, I already know
what poison ivy looks like," he said.
"I been out to Green Itch before."

"That's the nearest park with
playground equipment, right?"
Dr. G said. "Okay, one down.
You could ask Aida to recommend
some smartphone apps to identify
plants and animals you might see."

Shiv thought about that. Drawing
things was more fun when he
knew what they were.

"I'll ask," he said.
"What else is there?"

"Take some short walks,
then longer ones," Dr. G said.
"Do day trips before you try
overnight camping."

"That makes sense,"
Shiv said. "She sounds
like a nature program on TV,
guess she got it from somewhere."

"Aida likes to put on nature programs
for background sound while studying,
so yes," Dr. G said. "By all means,
invite her on a hike, she enjoys it.
I do suggest that you go with
different people though --
not everyone is the same."

"I can do that," Shiv said.
"So take shorter walks first,
then longer ones over time,
and mix up the company."

"That's right," said Dr. G.
"What places do you have
for hiking around here?"

"Well, there's Levi Carter Park,
where I could walk around the lake,"
Shiv said. "Farther south, there's
Heartland of America Park, which
connects with the Missouri River Trail."

"Those sound promising," Dr. G said.
"I suggest that you experiment with
different things to take on short hikes
before trying to figure out what you
need for a longer one. Don't rush out
to buy a bunch of equipment yet."

"Why not?" Shiv asked. "I'm
supposed to budget for that stuff."

"You won't know which things to choose
until you have some experience," Dr. G said.

Shiv thought about that. "Art supplies,"
he said. "I haven't really done a lot of
plein air work yet, but people talk about it.
I think I would enjoy trying more of that."

"Okay, let's pencil in a few things
that you'll probably want," Dr. G said.
"You can buy travel art supplies.
You'll need a backpack --"

"I have a backpack,"
Shiv said. "It ain't fancy,
but it works well enough."

"That should do for short trips,"
Dr. G said. "If you want to spend
a week backpacking, though, you'll
need one made for that purpose."

"Nah, I thought I'd hike in, find
a nice place, make camp, and
then explore more," Shiv said.

"Then a basic backpack should
do fine," Dr. G said. "Either
a sleeping bag or a bedroll
will work, but you'll need a tent
unless you plan to rent a cabin."

"Tent," Shiv said. "I should, um,
probably write this stuff down."

"Go ahead," Dr. G said. "Make
notes now so you can think about
what you want and shop around.
That'll help you make a budget."

Shiv wrote out the list, then
doodled pictures in the margins.

"That's good," Dr. G said.
"Stick to basics for now."

"Why?" Shiv asked.
"I've seen all kinds of
camping stuff in stores."

"Most of that is junk,"
Dr. G said. "Backpacking is
the art of knowing what not to take."

Shiv frowned. "I don't get it."

"You will once you're out in
the woods, I think," Dr. G said.
"The point is to get away from
everyday stuff, not haul it with you.
Backpacking is like life in that way."

"Knowing what not to take,"
Shiv murmured. "Yeah.
Sometimes that's hard,
but it's important."

Dr. G patted him on
the shoulder. "You will
get the hang of it soon enough."

Shiv was starting to believe him.

* * *


"Backpacking is the art of knowing what not to take."
-- Sheridan Anderson

Shiv's annual budget and consequent panic attack are mentioned in "Holiday in Handcuffs."

Budgeting for your first vacation can be a bit confusing. Explore some fun places and things to do for solo travelers.

Local-America has only a few days per year when it costs nothing to visit national parks. Otherwise, parks are only for people with money. In Terramagne-America, citizens can visit free because they already paid, otherwise known as taxes. Premium campsites (like RV pads with utilities) and some activities cost money, but there's always free stuff to do. There are some other free campsites that you can try on a roadtrip too.

This map shows some of the hiking trails in and around Omaha.

Plein air means doing art outdoors, such as painting or sketching.
Tags: cyberfunded creativity, family skills, fantasy, fishbowl, life lessons, nature, poem, poetry, reading, weblit, writing
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