I am participating in Kat McNally’s April Moon 14, a two week reflective writing challenge. Each day, Kat sends an email with a single word prompt to spark some time during the powerful time between the total lunar eclipse and the full moon. Participate with us!
The prompt for day eight is
What feelings does this word evoke? What sorts of memories does it recall? Which of your senses start to tingle? How would you represent what this word means to you?
When I think about “wild” I think about all of those days and nights spent out in the woods – exploring, wandering, hiking, swimming, sitting next to a fire, sleeping in a tent under the stars. Close to nature, far from civilization. Just me and the sweet Cobbler doggie – alone in the wilderness some times, surrounded by fellow campers other times.
It’s funny because people were always frightened for me when I said I was heading out to camp by myself with just me and the dog. Inevitably I was asked if I had a gun and when I responded that I didn’t, I was offered one. I always responded that I didn’t need one. I had a hammer, and I had a fierce dog who would die protecting me (not an exaggeration. In all of our trips, we only came across two people she didn’t like and in those two moment, my sweet, gentle puppy who let little kids pull her ears and her tail, beat on her sides and back, was transformed into a snarling, snapping, ferocious beast). What did I need a gun for?
The closest I ever came to danger was one fall night in the Smoky Mountains. I was sitting near the campfire, enjoying a martini (because camping doesn’t have to be uncivilized) and a book. Cobbie kept going to the edge of her lead and barking, her hackles up, staring into the darkness. Again and again. I couldn’t keep her quiet, so I decided that we should just go to bed. I packed up the site and put everything away in the trunk of the car except a plastic bag that held the fire starters for the next day. That I left on the picnic table. When we got up the next morning, that plastic bag and the entire top of the picnic table was covered in urine. I talked to the campground host about as Cob and I headed out for the day (because, gross?) and he said his bet, given my dog’s odd behavior, would have been a coyote. They were active in the area around the campground; it sounded like one had made itself at home right where we were.
I also think of New Orleans when I think of “wild”. Bourbon Street is one of the wildest places you’ll ever see. For some reason, people think that anything goes there, and I suppose that is true. As we walked down the street Easter afternoon, we saw a woman naked except for a g-string, strutting down the middle of Bourbon. Granted she was painted, but she was also clearly very naked (the painting was not cleverly done to disguise her nakedness but rather to enhance it). The drinks flow 3-for-1 until 8:00, 7 days a week, and before you know it, you’re drunk enough to not care what you’re doing or who you’re doing it with. It sounds like a great idea to show your breasts for strands of plastic beads that you can buy in bags of 144 for $5 in the French Market when you’ve had 4 hurricanes and someone has bought you a few shots as well.
It is absolutely crazy the things you will see happening on Bourbon Street as the night wears on and as things get wilder, they also get more dangerous, which is why Sweet Husband doesn’t like to be in New Orleans at night. While the French Quarter has a ton of police presence and tourists are relatively safe there, it is always smart to remember that New Orleans has been for decades one of the deadliest cities in the United States, and New Orleans is one of those “checkerboard” cities – one block is a great neighborhood, the next block, you’re in danger.
I also think about wild tangles of blackberry bushes when I think about “wild”. As a kid, there was a blackberry patch behind my father’s house, with absolutely huge bushes of blackberries. Huge. The patch was massive – probably a good 40 feet in circumference and bushes that were 10 feet tall. There was no way to get all of the berries off the bushes. You couldn’t reach high enough and you could never get to the middle. You were stuck picking around the edges because the thorns protected the sweetness in the middle – wild, impenetrable tangles. Those treasures were reserved for the birds and whatever animals were brave enough to venture inside the thicket.
I guess all of that long-windedness to get us down to the meat of it: wild always mixes the beautiful with an edge of danger. Without the heart-pounding element of risk, there is no wild; there is only the every day.
What does wild mean to you? Let me know in the comments!