What I am wondering is if it is possible to really leave only your footprint and take only photos, on this planet, if you have not spent time in a wild place. I mean, do you need to have a connection with the earth, in order to feel a need to respect and cherish and care for it? This came to me over the weekend when Roger and I went camping down in the rugged coastal conservation park south of Adelaide called Deep Creek. At one time I was sitting there, in the bush, thinking how lost I would feel if I couldn't spend a few days in a place like this, once in a while where I am totally comfortable, with the bare essentials, surrounded by a landscape, a feel and a smell that I know with no evidence of any others having been there.
And I wondered if I could live in another country, such as NZ, where I would not be able to take the power of this connection back to my everyday life, even though the scenery and the mountains there draw me to them so strongly. And does that rooted feeling of belonging to this landscape, here, in South Australia, allow me an easier inroad into being a low impact person and is it actually a prerequisite to understanding and accepting whatever it takes to end your life in an equal balance of giving to and taking from the environment?
These are pretty challenging questions and I don't know if there are any answers. Last night, sitting by the campfire with Roger, after the hardest walk I have done for many years (in painfully steep terrain), I felt so attuned to the experience and so relaxed and content with life. Not far away were other campers, with huge tents, blazing lights, massive bonfires while we had a tiny campfire, a 2 person tent and not much gear - enough to cook on a fire and to sleep cosily in the tent. When we leave a campsite you cannot see we have been there. Which is just as well because often we disobey the rules and set up our camp in a no camping area so as to wake up in the morning enveloped in forest or surrounded by birds and kangaroos, alone. Our fire takes up no more than a 30cm (1 foot) circle and when we leave we bury the ash and dust the ground again with leaves and disappear quietly. If you have never done this, can you feel in your heart the purpose to it?
(We rarely camp near other people or go somewhere popular but we were only an hour and half from the city this time so it was unavoidable.)
If you have never cooked on a fire made by you and struggled with the logistics of it how can you appreciate the luxury of electricity or gas? If you have never done all this with only the light made by the fire itself, why would you ever understand the need turn off the lights at home? If you have never gone to the toilet in the bush, in the dark how can you see the pointlessness of fancy toilet paper?
....The track here goes straight down from where I am sitting to the sandy lagoon below. Then it goes around the corner and straight up the other side....
Once you get this far, it's several hours before you are back to the tent and there are no other routes. If you have never done something challenging on foot how can you appreciate the ease of going by motorised transport?
Really, camping is such a fundamental need in me and it draws me to the bonds of earth, fire, wind and water - those things that make up the essence of my life. If you have never done it, what are you drawn to? Where do you go to recharge yourself? How do you stay in touch with yourself and the world?