Nature Calls

"What's that noise? I thought as I opened my eyes to the black inside of the sleeping bag hood. The only things exposed to the air were my nose and mouth so the sound was muffled. It reminded me of sand being thrown at a window. It was morning because I could just see a glimmer of light haloing my nose. I turned over not wanting to waken up fully just yet. Then the ache in the pit of my stomach made its presence felt, but I wasn't getting up yet. The noise seemed to get louder as my ear was now at the opening where my nose had been. It was as if a million ants were having a tap dance competition on the fly sheet of the tent.

The ache increased. I tried pulling my legs up which helped a little. Still the tap dancers practiced. I brought my hands up and loosened the pull cords at the top of the sleeping bag, pushed my hands up and lifted the hood over my head, bad move. The coldness of the air outside the sleeping bag on exposed skin made the ache worse; I could feel the pressure build.

The noise was still there, louder now that both ears were outside the hood, it was raining; the ache got worse. Looking at my watch it was five in the morning, too early to get up. "That's what you think" said the ache. I cupped my hand between my legs and crossed them, which helped a little. I lay listening to the rain.

The ache became unbearable I would have to get up or swim. The noise was getting quieter. Was the rain going off? I knew I still had to get out of the sleeping bag, put on my boots and get out of the tent. I had to take the chance.

Why do zips always wait till you are in a hurry to stick? The ache increased. I was out of the sleeping bag and unzipping the inner. My boots were waiting there as I had left them. I slipped my bare feet into them; cold and damp; the ache got worse. I was sitting bent in two as I struggled with the zip on the outer skin of the tent. Pressure increased! I had to get out soon or not bother.

At last the door was open; the colder air outside the tent hit the exposed skin; the pressure increased, it was now or never. I pushed myself up and ran, boots flopping about on the ends of my legs laces undone, tripping over heather, splashing in muddy puddles, as far enough away from my water source as I could in the time. Relief!

As I stood there I had time too look around, that is when I saw them. There were two of them standing on the hillside above the tent, watching me. What would they make of the site in front of them? This frantic, manic being, only wearing underwear and hiking boots. One of them returned to cropping the grass and heather, the other deer just kept watching. I was glad at that moment that I was in the middle of nowhere; at least there were no human eyes.

Such can be the joys of a call of nature in a tent.

2008 Alexander Birrell
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