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Pease Porridge Hot....and Cold
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No, it's not skinning bucks............ Developed and maintained by JP Finn
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It was late fall in South Georgia, back about '93. The occasion was a three-day weekend shoot near Waycross. I lived on the North Florida side of the mouth of the St Marys River, a four-hour drive away.
A friend wanted me to show him how I did some of the fancywork that I do with string and rope. I seldom go to the shoots, but it seemed to be a great place to spend the weekend. He was willing to pay the nominal camping fee, so I was easily talked into attending.
The week before the shoot was a rainy one. Friday dawned bright and clear. The weekend weather report was for cool and dry. I packed the little I was going to take into the haversack, tossed the diamond shelter on top and added a food box for the few dry goods and a tin bucket for the required fire fighting water.
After work, it took only moments to load the Silver Streak and head out for the shoot. Other than the grub box and bucket, I took only the normal trekking gear that had served me well. I planned to set up out of the way; both for some privacy and to avoid the late night parties that shoots seem to develop. I really like my sleep.
The drive was uneventful. It was getting late when I turned off the blacktop. Following the signs and paper plates that had been put up to blaze the trail for non-members, I found the shoot area easily.
Check-in went smoothly. I found that I had been signed up for the woodswalk and the primitive aggregate. And that the primitive camp area drive way and parking area had turned into mud soup (Known as gumbo, locally). A tractor was busy dragging out the few four wheelers that had the mistaken idea that they could drive across a bottomless quick-mud pit, tearing up even more of the road and parking area.
They pointed me to a spot that I could park where the truck only sank in to the axles, with a promise to pull me out when I was ready to leave.
Unloading my gear and the box (leaving the bucket and Ol' Thunder for the second trip), I cut through the woods towards the camping area. Locating the well and porta pottie, I continued across the muddy campground into the woods beyond. Back in the semi cleared area; I picked a likely spot and dumped my gear.
As I hurry back for the rest of my gear in the fading light, let me describe a leased range campground on a South Georgia Tree Farm:
Trees are planted in rows, a lot like corn. Every so often there is a dirt track where a row had been skipped for use by the logging machinery. This track was the "driveway". The track passed through a small area where the trees hadn't liked the soil and had grown stunted and sickly. Receiving permission from the Tree Farm owners, the smaller trees had been cut down and a shallow well sunk. Palmettos, grass and weeds grew up in the opening. Just before the shoot, a brush hog is run through the area, and Voila!, a campground.
Returning with the load, I stopped to fill the bucket. Back to my camp area, I took the diamond shelter and gathered the nearby cut grasses and weeds for a bed. Dumping the load in my camp, I used the remaining light to pick the palmetto leaves from the bedding.
Using the larger sticks culled from the hastily gathered bedding, I built a fire for light (and to divert the mosquitoes) with which to erect the diamond shelter. Completing that task, I stepped over to a moldering pile of cut wood from the original clearing of the campground stacked against a remaining tree, grabbed an arm full, and built up the fire. Completing the task of setting camp, I decided it must be time for a cup of tea and some supper. (I really like to eat, too)
Half an onion, a double handful of split peas, a handful of chopped jerky and a carrot went into the tin kettle. Loading a teaball in the cup, everything was snuggled into the fire to simmer. After adding a little salt into the "pease porridge, hot" from the trusty salt horn, I fetched another armload of wood.
Settling back against the woodpile, cradling my cup of tea, I surveyed my surroundings, content with the evening. I was away from the small group that had set up a couple modern tents and a wedge. Over near the porta pottie was an unoccupied tee pee disappearing in the gloom of the evening. Everyone seemed to be settling in for the night.
Finishing my tea, I refilled the cup, set it back in the fire and leaned back against my small woodpile. Digging out my wooden spoon from the possibles bag, I dug into the pease porridge. Making a face at the metallic taste, I decided that either the well water had a problem or my tin kettle had decided to poison me. After eating half the kettle of the pea soup, I decided that I had eaten way too much. Visions of spinning heads and spewing pea soup from the movie The Exorcism began to flash through my mind.
Retrieving the cup of tea, I sipped it, hoping for a slight settling of the stomach. Tossing a few more sticks on the fire, I moved over to my bedroll and dug out the trusty pipe and tobacco bag. Huddled under the diamond shelter, staring into the fire, I decided that I needed to get some professional help, or at least remove some of the soup from my body.
Staggering out behind the shelter I deposited some fine 'possum bait.
Yep, I could have stopped and got a Big Mac on the way – or waited to get here on Saturday when Billy was expected to arrive. But, no, I had to wander off to die by myself, from my own cooking.
I decided that I was not in good enough shape to pack out, even if I could get the Silver Streak out of the mud and onto the road. I doubted that I could even get over to the drunken party across the muddy campground.
Curling up in my blanket, I decided that the morning would either find me better or someone would be in for a real surprise when they came over to check out the camp in the woods.
Deciding that one doesn't wake up in Heaven with an overflowing bladder, and it wasn't nearly hot enough to be the other place, I discovered that I felt much better. After taking care of the immediate needs, I gathered some grass and sticks to start the morning fire.
As the fire began to blaze up, I opened the grub box, fixed the coffeepot and snuggled back into the blankets.
After a thorough check of all parts inside and out, I decided that, even though I felt better, I still hadn't completely recovered from the events of last night. The boiling over of the coffeepot interrupted the self-examination.
Snatching the pot from the fire, I noticed bugs boiling out from under the bark of the piece of firewood the pot had been setting on. Small grey bugs, with a tail that curled back over their backs towards small heads that were framed with a pair of pinchers.
Scratching the many mosquito bites, I watched them scurry back and forth. The same thing happened with the next piece of wood that was placed into the fire.
Drinking coffee, watching the pile of wood that I had moved over to the fire last night become ashes, I decided that it was going to be a good day after all. The remains of the "Pease porridge, cold" was going to make a fine breakfast.
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If you want to plaver, do so. Hey, jp!