There is a gentle pleasure in the simplicity of sitting underneath a tarp.
We all have ways of “getting away from it all”, that break from the “rat race” of our every day lives. Some like to lap up the sun next to a pool somewhere abroad while reading a book. Myself, I prefer the more simple pleasures and those that are more easily accessible. The quiet and restful rhythm of nature offers itself to the mindfulness that a break from life requires, the opportunity to sit and be, to collect your thoughts and let the pastoral calm rearrange the values of my life.
To fully protect that moment of simplicity no complicated plans or baggage are needed, hence the tarp. Sitting in the woods or on some heath land it is amazing how a basic tarp set up can transform that piece of wilderness into a sense of place. I think we are territorial by nature. Claiming that piece of land as our own (blanket on the beach?) creates a sense of security or belonging, a spot where I can be myself and know myself.
A tarp is my shelter, protection, my wall; a small sense of privacy while embracing the wider world on my doorstep.
Sitting under canvas (ok RS Nylon) has its own magic.
Watching the shadows of the trees playing on the blank screen, listening to the rain drumming a constant rhythm on the skin, a gentle wind flapping the sails. All these experiences are evoked by the tarp that wraps in the calming affection of mother nature..
It is so easy to create this little nest in the land. The tarp can be strung up between two trees or poles (walking poles even) with one edge pegged to the ground, or the corners tied down. That is it, I have made my space. Tarps are adaptable to many shapes for a shelter depending upon how enclosed I want to be, or even how long I am staying.
An overnight stay or a days’ sanctuary, a good tarp provides all the shelter that I need.
The lack of complexity about having a tarp to hand, means that if I wish I can go out at anytime to escape into the restoring arms or nature, no great plans are required or timetables. Not even a great journey to a distant well-known beauty spot. I just need to find some quiet spot tucked out-of-the-way where no one will disturb me.
Keeping it simple is the essence of these moments for me, taking some simple food and a method of cooking, with enough clothes to keep me warm. An overnight stay requires a sleeping bag and ground mat. Justin in his blog Winter Tarp Camping and Stoves gives some good advice on cooking methods and tarp layouts in Bivi and tarp set up for wild camping.
A camp fire always adds to the ambience of the ‘place’ experience. It brings that sense of comfort which maybe we have inherited from our primitive forefathers, fire meant food, protection, warmth. I am no great Boy Scout I am afraid I use a lighter and some paper to get my fire going, and cooking over a fire is not as easy as using a basic Gaz cooker.
I do though love just sitting watching the flames of a wood fire especially at night, somehow it is easier to let the cluttered thoughts of my mind become clearer and ordered, as I watch the yellow, reds and oranges of the flames play amongst the blackening branches and twigs. It is an ancient practice of mankind and one that I am happy to keep alive.
Sitting under the trees watching my pork chop and onions slowly fry under a Jack Wolfskin Moonshadow Tarp, this is my space my moment in time, no pressures, no noise except the wind in the trees and the birds. Time slowly drifts over my mind while I watch my chop turn brown, it is a rare but special time. In the breeze of thoughts that rustle through the branches of my mind I think “I need to do this more often”, take some time in the midst of natures life that has all the time in the world.
Even the chop seems to taste better out here.