The Tent Life

Ok, so here are some pictures of my tent.

This is pretty standard McCarthy-style digs.  Most seasonal employees are living in some variation of tent/shack/hut, etc.

Personally, I think this tent is pretty sweet.  In terms of wall tents this one is luxury.  Check out the van seat couch, spacious shelving, and desk.  Not only that, but I landscaped the front yard, adding a stone walkway.

However, the walkway hasn’t settled, and the moist upturned dirt attracted mosquitos.

Still, it’s all fun.

Here are some pictures of the real estate, followed by a brief meditation on tent life.  Cheers.

transcribed from the traveling, yellow, spiral bound notebook of 2010:

When I get back to the tent, late at night, I check the temperature recorded on my Casio alarm clock.

Sometimes, if it’s been sunny all day, the temperature reads sixty degrees.

Sometimes it has rained all day.  The mountaintops are dusted with fresh snow.  A person can see their breath.  On night like this the temperature is down into the lower forties.

I zip into two sleeping bags, insulating myself against the cold, and I wonder, somewhat amused . . . .

seriously, what the hell am I doing living in a tent in Alaska?

I close my eyes.  It’s time to sleep, no matter that it’s still light outside.

While laying there, eyes closed, burrowed in numerous sleeping bags, a silence settles.

And then it parts –

The silence reels back like the curtain in a cinema before the main feature.
The sounds then echo throughout the theater.

The constant rush of the creek, not unlike the highway at night back home.
The creaking of the tent frame.
Rain pattering on the plastic roof, amplified like a taut drum.
A rabbit scuttling through the tangled underbrush.
A bird erupting into a strange comical outburst.
A mosquito whispering threats into my eardrum.
Something falling on the roof of the tent.

Sometimes louder sounds.  Hoofbeats.  Heavy animal breathing.  A bear?  A moose?  I reach out for the bear spray sitting nearby.  I try not to breath, to hear the sound better, to assess a possible threat.  It’s nothing after all.

Eventually I hear just my heart beating.

And maybe the creek.

And I’ll wonder again, under a dreamy and whimsical influence . . . .

seriously?  a tent?  bears? snow on the tops of mountains?  Alaska?  Yes.  Ok.

Soon afterwards, I will fall into a heavy sleep.

The dreams unroll steadily.  They are numerous and fully rendered.  They’re full of light, and dubbed with weird outrageous sounds borrowed from the actual sounds in the nearby woods.  They are always between forty and fifty five degrees in temperature.  They shimmer and reflect until morning, when the sun begins to warm, and it’s time to wake up.

This is just a night in the tent, like any other night

4 thoughts on “The Tent Life

Add yours

  1. The tent is sweet but you should so have a Yurt! Have you ever thought of the book , Into The Wild, while you lay there amongst Alaska’s sounds?

  2. dear mike, the tent life seems appropriate to the terrain you picture so well.. bear spray? i would feel better with a 30/06 next to me. am i picking up on you haaving had enough? anyway ,enjoy and be carefull. enjoyed your thoughts on the evening.. love gramp pete and gram shar..

  3. Mike,
    Compared to your luxurious digs, I’ve been living too roughly this summer at Tent City! Wonderful description–You nailed it right on.

  4. Melody, I might be a wall tent convert, although I’ve always been fond of yurts.

    Pete, ha ha, at times I’ve wanted a gun. There is a serious debate raging out here on the effectiveness of a gun vs. the bear spray. Personally, I feel pretty safe with the pepper spray. As someone who has not experienced any serious bear encounters it’s all speculation on my part. Miss you guys. Thanks for reading.

    Terry, thanks. I know you’ve heard the sounds. Viva Tent City!

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