Thursday, May 29, 2008

Fortuitous Feline Fracas

Last night, actually early this morning, at 1 a.m., I was awakened by a cat fight that took place right outside my bedroom window. I figured my cat "Max" who just had 4 kittens last Saturday in our garage, was out there missing her babies. Like a good pet owner, I got up to find her, but I guess she ran off in the scuffle. I checked on the kittens, and they seemed like they could go a few more hours without their mother.

Being totally awake and remembering what my wife said last week on the evening before her day off, "There are some GOOD shows on TV late at night," I decided to hit the boob tub for a while. I was hoping to see if I could cash in on any great offers advertised in an infomercial, catch up on NBA and NHL scores, and stumble across one of these "good" programs. Two hours later, I had vicariously survived a plane crash along a desolate frozen lake in forsaken Ontario and made it through a week in the Amazon rain forest. With Les Stroud, the "Survivorman," as my guide, I took a two-hour mental journey that was more exciting than any dream I might have been missing.
The Survivorman

If you're not familiar with the show, Les is dropped into harsh environments with nothing but a multi-tool and a few common household items like a bobby-pin, a magnet, or a piece of panty hose. The show is similar to Bear Grylls' "Man vs. Wild," but even better since Les is truly out in the wild on his own, filming his own shots, whereas Bear has a crew to do the filming for him. It also means that there is no safety net for Les. If he gets injured or comes in counter with a ravenous jaguar or mountain lion, he's truly on his own. Bear's crew is allowed to come to his aid in an emergency. Les is also a more interesting individual. He's an artist with the camera, capturing the beauty of his environment with brilliant cinematography. He's also quite good on the harmonica, which helps him fight off loneliness and hungry predators. Where else but in a rudimentary crafted bivouac in the Amazon jungle can you hear in improvisational ditty called "Foot Fungus Blues?"

I'm not a big fan of reality TV, or TV in general, but this is one show I've been tuning into periodically for a couple of years now. I know the great outdoors are not for everybody, especially in the extreme survival conditions in which Les films, but for me, the show is not only a chance to learn a few tips, like using a soda can's ring top as a fish hook or using a bicycle inner-tube as a spear fishing device, but it also gives me a glimpse of some of the most remote, authentic, untainted, unforgiving places on our planet. Although I don't think I'd necessarily want to spend a week on the Canadian tundra by myself with nothing but a big parka eating raw seal sleeping unexposed out in the snow as hungry polar bears walk by, I wouldn't mind going on some excursions with Les.

The closest I've come was my week-long backpacking trip last summer in the Hunter-Fryingpan Wilderness area. It was one of the most surreal, tellurian, peaceful times of my life: Never encountering another soul other than my two buddies, bush-wacking, fishing for trout, ascending a 12.5K mountain with full gear, battling the scree and talus, sneaking up on herds of elk, sleeping in a new location each night with one hand on a revolver (bear country), and spending hours lost in thought on a boulder beside a pristine waterfall. It's something I'd like to do more often.

Watching shows like "Survivorman" take me back to these memories from the plush environment of my living room, and ignite my passion to return again this summer, to a place where being woken up by a cat fight means something altogether different. Wait for me Les, I'm coming just as soon as I learn to play the harmonica. Save some foot fungus for me.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Samurai kitties in cute pants are adorable.