The smell of pine and wood smoke flavored the night air as I walked through the deserted campground. A fine drizzle, just a little stiffer than mist, was falling in soft sheets across the beam of my flashlight. I took a deep breath through my nose, held it for a moment, and then watched as my warm breath curled away- escaping from my mouth. It felt good to be out walking.
I had no destination in mind…just walking. I swung along past the center grass, past the Big Pine Lodge and behind the Sunset Bowl. On a whim, I turned off the road and descended down into the gully, walked across its broad sandy bottom, and clambered back up the opposite side. I found myself standing in front of the old swing set, which sat atop the gully’s rim. The dark dripping forest hemmed in behind it, and, in the dark, it was hard to differentiate one tree from another. The woods were a dark ominous mass- a wild place- and the swing set stood on its edge like the last remote outpost of a civilization.
My breath was ragged from the climb so I slumped down heavily into the nearest swing, and instantly felt the cold rainwater soak through my pants and underwear.
Off in the distance, the quiet night was shattered by the sirens of a fire engine racing up rt. 243, and from somewhere on the ridge behind me a pack of coyotes answered with a frenzied chorus of yips and howls. I began to swing in the rain; pumping my legs and keeping my feet clear of the puddle which had formed in the trough beneath me. I went higher and faster until my outstretched feet nearly grazed a cedar branch above me and my hands were red and uncomfortable from gripping the wet chains in the cold night air.