The blog formerly known as   Fake Plastic Fish

July 22, 2008

I went to the woods…

…because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived. Henry David Thoreau, Walden.

I spread a sheet on the ground and set up my chair in a eucalyptus grove overlooking Lake Chabot. I sat in that chair from 12:30pm yesterday to 11:00am today, not quite 24 hours. It was cold and foggy most of the day, and very cold last night. Thank goodness for my mummy bag with hood, which kept me warm enough.

I drank water and listened to the rumblings of my empty tummy. Thoughts were thought and visions beheld, although not of the fantastical burning bush sort. The sound of eucalyptus bark peeling from trees was like a chorus of creeky doors opening and closing, inviting me over and over again to wake up. And the leaves fluttered all night like little birds over my head. After dark, a skunk and I were mutually alarmed by the presence of the other, but after a few seconds of nervous staring, we parted ways (the skunk turned and ran off) neither the worse for the encounter.

That’s all I’m prepared to say right now. The deeper experience feels too raw and precious to share publicly… at least for a while. Here are a few more pictures. Yes, I brought my camera, but it spent most of its time in my backpack.

The view from my chair:

Early Tuesday morning:

Lake Chabot from the bench where I sat and ate my lunch Tuesday after fasting for a full day. The best PB&J ever!

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Gum trees. The smell of eucalyptus. Mmm.. Good for purification, if you didn’t know.


Looks beautiful! You’re so brave for doing this!

Going Crunchy

Ooh……I want to go! I would love just a few hours alone with my thoughts much less a whole 24 hours. Um, I think my tush would be a little aching though.


Well Elmira, Looking at the picture you rode your broom into the woods. What is the carbon footprint of a broom? Can you register it with terrapass? JK

Glad your retreat went well, glad you had good experiences.


It’s been said that each of us should have a private place in a natural setting where we can go and simply sit, just like you did. The longer you sit the more you notice and what is there to see all along presents itself. Along with everything around you, you just are. Let it be. Since (with the exception of mosquitoes!) most creatures do not attack unless threatened you can see fellow creatures that go about their ways. Since plants take time to do things, you have to give them the time to do them. To be free of… Read more »


This was awesome, can’t wait to read the details of your personal journey. (Are you going to eat the fudge now?)
You inspired me, at the least, to go on a hike to Lake Chabot tomorrow.

Not up to my ears in credit card debt.

I’ve thought of doing something like this. It’s one of the reasons I go backpacking even though I’ve always been out of shape when I go. Nothing like being in the wilderness with your thoughts. I would say I hope you found what you were looking for…but that’s not really what it’s about, is it! Thanks for sharing.

Green Bean

Feels wonderful, even looking at it vicariously through your photos. This is something we should all do – to get be able to hear ourselves.


Thanks for sharing, what a fantastic experience.


Beth that sounds like the most amazing and beautiful experience. I feel inspired to do something similar. Thank you for sharing what you have been able to. You are truly inspirational.