Monday, April 19, 2010

Conquering Fear

It’s no secret I’m not exactly the outdoorsy type. In fact, I’ve admitted it here and here.

We push our kids—stretch yourself, try new things, be brave, don't be afraid of change! There are things about me I’d like to change: I’d like to be more active, to connect with old friends. I’d like to be less judgmental, more charitable with my time, less frightened about potential intruders. But one thing I never thought I’d say is this: I’d like to be more outdoorsy.

This weekend, a dear friend invited me and another friend to an outdoor adventure in the woods, where we each had our own cabin, a view of the lake, and morning caffeine delivered by the coffee fairy.

I didn’t know what to expect, even when I followed the gravel driveway deep into the private woods. Our host warmly greeted us and made me feel instantly welcome. He mentioned no electricity, and I thought it was a joke, like the jackalope head mounted on the wall of one of the cabins. But no, the candles in my room weren’t decorative, nor were the neck flashlights he issued us later in the evening, with a warning to remember their precise location when removed.

Upon our arrival, our gracious host toured us around the property in an open jeep, past fields of blue bonnets and Indian paintbrush, with tales of armadillos, pigs, coyotes, and snakes. We climbed a three-story lookout and found a vulture feather I initially thought was fake, until one of the creatures soared overhead hoping to land on one of the dirty white wood posts where he’d obviously stood before.

We hunkered down from an evening storm under a wooden canopy and ate al fresco guacamole, campfire-cooked salmon and baked potatoes. I branded a coaster with a red-hot iron as the rain played tunes on metal tubs and the cows crept ever nearer, threatening to join us under cover.

Earlier we’d chosen our cabins, the others indulging my fears by offering the “Martha Stewart” cabin, centrally located and outfitted with the cushiest of rustic accommodations. Our gracious host even offered Lexi the guard dog as protection.

Later in the dark room, with Lexi sleeping on the floorboards by the unlocked door and a cool breeze wafting through the window screens, I marveled at my lack of fear. Even at 2 a.m. when I saw a little girl appear at the top of my stairs, only to be gone a moment later, I closed my eyes and fell asleep, wondering if anyone would really believe I’d seen a ghost.

In the morning, while we ate tortilla-wrapped salmon, potatoes, and egg, I told them about my night. Our host, noticing me shivering, place a skillet with coals from the fire under my metal chair, a rustic version of heated seats, which was engineered after at a previous guest’s suggestion. If I’d been staying at Martha’s house, I wouldn’t have felt more welcome.

Earlier in the day, one of the other women chose the cabin over the garage away from the immediate cabin area. While I thought, glad it’s her and not me !, I had no idea I’d later escort her home, navigating by neck-light with the threat of killer cows and snakes at my heels.

I can’t lie and say I wasn’t frightened at all, like when I was certain a snake leered from a nearby branch over our hot tub, but I’m so thankful for the opportunity to stretch myself. In the morning I saw that the snake in the trees was really an outdoor shower head, but I’m not convinced our host wasn’t a figment of my imagination or a hospitable ghost, sent to help me conquer my fears.

(Blue bonnet picture provided by Barbara Johnson.)


Kim Bullock said...

Way to go, Joan. I know how much this would have tested the limits of your adventurous spirit, but you DID it.

Oh, and I'd believe you that you saw a ghost. Maybe she was watching over you.

This place sounds like fun, actually.

K. Harrington said...

Inspiring post, Joan!

Anonymous said...

Joan, Bravo!!! What a fun, descriptive account of our girls' weekend. I LOVED having you as a partner in fear and adventure.

Elizabeth Lynd said...

Well, look at you! Good for you, and can I say how envious I am? It sounds wonderful! And since it's been proven to you before (ahem!) that there are indeed sometimes snakes where it's been sworn there will BE NO SNAKES, I can't even blame you for the showerhead incident. Glad your heiny was nice and toasty, too. Now: did you get some work done?

Julie Kibler said...

Loved this! So proud of you, Joan. :)

Joan Mora said...

Hi all! Thanks for stopping by! Elizabeth--no work done, but lots of great ideas to build on.