Smite, smote - it was close

It was an extension of a conversation and it was not going well.
I used my Angry Voice.
And wasn’t getting much response from (insert your favorite deity here). And we were discussing some pretty hefty shit.
As hikers, we had come down some pretty nasty grade, through a forest fire that had scorched the landscape in 1988. Desolate and ugly. Hot and dusty.
Dead trees, like pick-up sticks, littered the landscape.
The group was tired; we were hungry; we were dehydrated.
And there was no way I was staying where the others half-heartedly searched for enough flat space to pitch tents.
“I’m going on a bit,” I said.
And huffed off.
To continue my conversation with God.
(And find a suitable place to pitch my tent.)
The trail got tougher as it zigzagged through the granite canyon. It really was quite beautiful. And I was having none of it.
Because I was really pissed off.
I stood at one spot, as the others called on the handheld radios to gauge my progress. Daylight was becoming a premium commodity.
And this spot just wouldn’t do.
Like a petulant child, I hurled my trekking poles down and screamed, “You know, I’d just like to catch a break, one fucking break here.”
OK, it felt good. But it didn’t solve my immediate problem.
(Nor any longterm problems.)
So I continued the conversation. I continued to use my Angry Voice.
And stumbled on a site that would have to do.
The storm gathered strength from the heat on the valley floor, and was roiling up the canyon.
The others got their tents up just as the first sheets of rain slammed in.
“Let’s keep the radios on. And we’ll cook dinner once the storm passes.”
It didn’t pass. It intensified.
Lightening lit up the tent fabric. Piercing thunder rumbled across the canyon walls.
We were at 9,000 feet in elevation (2,743 meters for our metric friends) and while not the tallest point in the forest, I have seen what lightening can do to people in nylon tents.
“OK everybody, make sure you don’t have any metal in your tents,” the radio crackled.
I snickered.
And realized that I still had my belt on; the one with the big metal buckle.
And gulped.
“You wouldn’t dare,” I said, aloud.
Lightening continued to flash, enough to illuminate the inside of the tent for an instant as I imagined the fury outside lying flat on my back.
And I thought, “Great, a blast of lightening, right at belt-level. Fry Mr. Happy. Perfect.”
I slid the belt off and stuck it in my boot.
“Smite me? No thanks.”
And I turned to lie on my stomach.
To effectively ground Mr. Happy (or so I hoped).
The storm didn’t blow itself out until the very early morning. We awoke to blue skies – “Bluebird weather,” a compatriot said – and all was well. I was alive, Mr. Happy was ecstatic (and still with me, whole), I was hydrated, rested, and I was ready to continue the hike.
I touched two fingers to my chest, where my heart lies, and pointed skyward.
Point taken.


Salmonqueen said...

I love that word," Smite". Lewis Black uses the Smote word when talking about "our people" whom god would smote if they didn't get their shit together.

Your words provoke a powerful, visceral response.I could taste the palpable anger of your trek, and feel your boots crunching on the decomposed granite on the trail.

'tis a good thing you turned over to hide your belt buckle from the angry lightning goddess, she spared Mr. Happy, and yourself. You must be doing something right.