Prescott National Forest
Saturday evening, just after sunset

I found a quaint little spot up a steep, deeply rutted road. The tires spun to get me here, but on the second go they held. Huge fire pit and ample wood, but crawled in the back of my Subaru instead. In the back of my car, wrapped in a fleece blanket. It feels so much better here, like a fort when I was a kid. The safety of a small, well defined, familiar space.

A cool soft breeze blows across the interior of my car, from the open hatch to the driver side rear window. Children yelling in play at another campsite, just down the road. Gun shots ripple in quick succession from what I hope is some distance. (Later, at half past midnight someone unloaded an automatic gun for what I am guessing was a few dozen rounds.) The echo resounds from the canyon walls, eventually diminishing to a hushed roar. The smell of wood smoke mixes with roasted meat and sulfur.

The national forest was designed and designated for these function: people doing what they please, where they will, with no immediate supervision. Sometimes it scares me, but it is what I cherish most about the American southwest, the sensation of open space even within the confines of well mapped and over used territory.

I love going for hours, even days without hearing my own voice.

It is so grounding for me to walk at dusk or dawn in search of boulders to climb, a block of cheese in hand, carving off pieces to mix with bites of an apple. Apples always taste cool even when they have been in the sun. I never tire of the sound of pine needles beneath my feet. Lately, I walk barefoot even on the trails, my feet growing accustomed to their natural state.

If someone were to tell me I could never again use the Internet, I would smile. If someone were to tell me I would never again venture into a city, hear the sound of a car, eat from a restaurant or enter a crowded bar, I would feel relief. if someone were to tell me I could never write again, I would be horribly sad but take up singing, painting, and playing guitar.

If, however, someone were to tell me I could never again sleep on the ground, under the open sky, I would prefer to die.