Tuesday, May 11, 2010

The hermit, the cave, the smell

During my hike around Lake Michigan I met a lot of interesting people, one of which was a sort of hermit I guess you'd call him. Sometimes I wonder if he may still be living in his cave. Yes, when I came across him many years ago he had definitely set up housekeeping in a small cave overlooking a creek that flowed into Lake Michigan just a little south of the Mackinaw bridge. I ran across him while walking up the creek looking for something to eat. He had built a doorway from wooden sticks, clay and straw blocks and what appeared to be rabbit skins as a roof. Quite ingenious really, I thought. I declined his invitation to stay and visit for a few days for two reasons: number one is I had made my policy to not sleep in any structure and secondly, his cave stunk. I mean it wreaked of just what I don't know. But I can tell you that just standing in the doorway my eyes and nose hurt from the stench. At the time my goal was to complete my walk around the lake. not to visit with everyone I bumped into, no matter how interesting they were. Today is a different story. I am really curious as to why he lived in a cave, how long did he live there, why did he choose that area, what did he do to support himself, and most of all, how could he stand the odor? I can still remember and sense that awful, pungent, almost suffocating odor.

Walking through a store last week I stopped to look over a new tool displayed on a center aisle table. I like new tools. Picking up the tool, I turned it around in my hands to see how it worked and what useful functions it may have. While I was engrossed in this new multi tasking tool, imagining myself building lots of new stuff in my basement, my nose started to twitch and itch. My eyes began to tear up and sting. My mind flashed back to long ago when I first poked my head into that cave. It startled me and I looked around to find the source of that familiar yet terribly offensive smell. there were several people milling around and walking away from the tool display. I didn't see anyone that looked particularly dirty or hermit like. I also didn't notice anyone else searching for a source of any odor. No one smelling each other. In a minute or two the odor dissipated as far as I could tell. Apparently I was the only one that noticed it but then again maybe no one else wanted to acknowledge it either. After all, it was strong enough to maybe be considered as some type of biological terrorism in today's society.

It did make me wonder if that guy still lived in his cave up north, or has he moved into a store somewhere in Central Michigan that is open 24 hours?

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