Returning to one’s ancestral homeland offers time for reflection, but also reminds us that even these sacred places are often threatened. Read more →
Every boy’s hidden goal growing up is to create a place where he can be completely free—a fort, a treehouse, or that special fishing hole. I created such a place of privilege and indulgence as a young adult. A secret place that I would venture with my friend Geoff where there were no fears of anyone bothering us in any way. This secluded place was deep in the woods, away from any watchful eye.
Geoff’s car headlights cast shadows, with the trees defining where we would reside. Geoff would grab his roman candle and I would grab mine. After hacking on way too many hits from some ditch weed that Geoff happened to find by the side of the road one day, we started the fun. A roman candle fight was declared as one hot fire ball after another blasted between friends. Laughter and more laughter as the Doors played on Geoff’s car stereo. “More ditch weed!” I would say. “More cigarette!” Geoff would say. The night sky was clear with every star decorating our ceiling of adventure. Surrounded by nature and darkness, we controlled that space in time.
It was time to car surf. I was way too afraid to surf. Choking on ditch weed, riding the clutch, and cranking the Beatles, we were off with Geoff perched on top of his car roof. Down the old logging trail we flew with laughter and a couple of “Whoas” and “Holy Shits!” It was a short nut-tickling run, but long enough to feel a bit of doom with the wrong move. More ditch weed. There is a reason why it’s called ditch weed.
Nothing would stop the total anarchy of the evening as we coughed and laughed and coughed some more. It was total freedom that was felt, and it felt right. Somehow this place we called strawberry fields gave us what we needed at that time in our lives. We needed our own strawberry fields to allow for a release of energy from deep within. It was an energy that didn’t seem to come out when the sun was up. Those stars and the freshest of air deep in the woods were required for the beasts within to rise up and dance and cough and laugh. No fears with the total confidence of indestructability. Nothing was going to touch us. Nothing was going to stop us. Total freedom achieved.
Jeremy Chapman is a student at Keweenaw Bay Ojibwa Community College.