The Essence Of The Outdoors

    As outdoors writer for the Duluth News Tribune, part of my job is to recognize the success of people in our region. So, we regularly publish photos of hunters with big bucks and anglers with big fish. Our stories often highlight people who have been successful in the field and on the water.
     But I also try to convey the essence of the outdoor experience in my stories — little nuggets of description that tell the reader what it was really like out there and why we keep going back. I think a lot of us are out there for the same reasons, and not all of them have to do with shooting something or catching a big fish.
     Matt Frigaard, now of St. Paul but formerly of Duluth, e-mailed this week with some similar thoughts.
     "While hunting and fishing almost always have a desired ‘end,’" Matt writes, "it is the ‘means’ that make the outdoors experience… From the packing of gear and the road trip, to stopping and sitting in the forest and allowing it to re-animate around you, to the camaraderie and partnerships developed in the field and around the campfire…"
      He goes on to write: "I’ve sometimes found myself explaining hunting and fishing as parts poetry, philosophy, art, music, science, psychology, logic, tactics and spirituality."
      I think Matt has the outdoors in perspective. We need to acquire information about our trips afield. We need to take care of our equipment. We need to practice the skills our outings require. We owe it to the fish and game to be prepared.
      But we also need to be open to the complete experience — rain on the tent, the wonder of the night sky, a whiff of woodsmoke on the wind, a batch of twinflowers along the portage, the great silences, the flickering of firelight on the faces of companions.
      Matt understands that. I think most of us do, on some level.