no more camping

I had a thousand dreams before I realized I was dreaming every dream I'd ever dreamed in one night, the way your mind can bend the will of time and space, and woke up exhausted and elated and sunk miserably to the sharp oyster shells hidden among the languid, weepy eelgrass beds.

My son was sleeping in the tent with me, and we woke and prepped the site for the late arrival of our camp mates. I made coffee and told him we would eat later. We carried our kayaks down to the beach at Hood Canal.

There was a prohibition against harvesting shellfish because of an algae bloom. Biotoxins had been found in some oysters, and the night before I had tried to find out if Dungeness crab is technically considered a shellfish.

We launched at low-tide, tripping through tide pools. He found a couple of tiny eels, which I cradled and released into the water. Out in the sound I dropped chicken legs and sardines into the trap and let the rope slide into the deep. I told him stories of harvesting crabs as a kid, but I was a kid here, too. I was out on the sea in a kayak, launching a crab pot.

My brother-in-law joined us in the afternoon, and we paddled out to the buoy. I lifted the pot from the water and saw four red rock crabs trapped inside. I pulled them out, dropped them in my net and asked him to hold onto them. He paddled over, a little tipsy from rum and wine, and toppled into the ocean. After a minor struggle, he righted the boat and recovered his seat. We paddled further while he lamented the loss of his cigarettes, and I dropped the pot again, deeper, this time, so deep that the buoy sunk with it, gone forever with the chicken and the sardines and an escape door latched down with cotton that's meant to deteriorate so the trap doesn't become an underwater penitentiary.

The tent was the next casualty, a victim of a poorly designed door and by nightfall, we had pinned up the tatters and covered the rest with a tarp. My son showed them how to start a fire with nothing but a magnesium block and flint and steel, and we ate a red rock crab and became ill, our fingers numb and tingling. I had earlier launched my wife and her sister and my daughter off on the kayaks and dunked into the water, relishing its warm coolness in the heat, but thinking it was clean like the alpine freshwater lakes at the top of the state. I slogged onto shore, damp and humid and sticky and miserable.

I showered the next day, bloated from too much camp food, and we watched the campsite next to us clear out, on their last day of camping, the day when loving couples deteriorate like iron fenders in the salt air. We smiled as the couple mimed the silent fight of hand screaming, where your body gestures all the rage you dare not vocalize with all your friends and parents and onlookers in such close quarters. We laughed and imitated and knew that by the end, we would also be frayed to our own ends, and sure enough, we began to fight halfway home, only to make up a little later in the evening, after we had showered and wrote off our losses.

We have made this same trip once a year for years and I cannot remember any of the details of that first night's dream of dreams.


Janet said…
Wilderness makes my dreams feel domestic.

Your descriptions of the lobster pots make me wish my childhood gave me lobster pots.
leahpeah said…
"I miss you," she said. And signed off with an X and an O like they do in old books.
Brandon said…
janet, i wish i could re-write 90% of the parts of my childhood that weren't descriptions of the sea.

leah, it is easy to miss me because i am quiet and blend into the background noise these days. but i am still here. (old books are the best books)
matt said…
I almost never remember my dreams. Sometimes I get particularly optimistic and decide it's because I'm living them... (awwh, shucks)

Of course, this week I've been remembering them come morning. Go figure.

What is it about trips that makes us unravel when we know we're nearly done?

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