Monday, February 14, 2011

Hygiene in the Woods

Hygiene in the woods exists more as a concept than as an actual practice. With no one to pass judgement, a lot of common routines fall by the wayside and many things generally regarded as less-than-desirable are casually shrugged off. Life out here is dirty and you have to live with it or you...well...actually, you just have to live with it.

For example, I'll be cutting an onion only to pause and think, "Did I wash my knife after I gutted that squirrel? ...Oh well, it's too late now," and then resume cutting. I distinctly remember wiping it off on my pants, and besides, I was going to cook the onions anyways, so now I'll just cook them a little more thoroughly.

Although I'm only bathing once a week, I do get to "bathe" not infrequently with the aid of a few baby wipes. Standing, and often shivering, naked in the middle of camp I'll use a few baby wipes to cleanse all the vital bits and places before getting dressed for the day. Sadly, this method leaves a lot to be desired.

Despite spending a good deal of time with gloves on, my hands are always filthy. I am reminded of this every morning when I peel my hard-boiled egg. What starts as a pristine, white oval finishes mottled with a color of brown that one can easily recreate at home by mixing all the watercolors in a set together. Pausing to stare at this suddenly less appetizing breakfast, I will think, "...Oh well, it's too late now," and then it's bottom's up.

My two primary pair of work pants are no better. I can already tell that they will never be the same after this experience. Once 100% cotton, even after a good washing, they're now closer to 97% cotton-3% pine sap. They also catch a lot of the grime that my hands, knives, and utensils collect because they serve as a combination napkin/towel/washcloth. Rinsing my spoon (if licking it really well qualifies as 'rinsing'), I'll immediately wipe dry on my pants. The solid odds are wherever I wipe it, that exact spot was used to wipe mud or chainsaw lube off my hands only minutes earlier. The next time I get ready to take a bite of something, I will pause, look at my spoon, and--recalling everything that was wiped on my pants before it--think, "...Oh well, it's too late now."

If the old adage is true that what doesn't kill us only makes us stronger, I'm going to be a veritable superhero once this is all said and done.

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