Joy Incarnate

No doubt durable, the brown, rubber coated metal picnic table was exploding with sandwich ingredients: two loaves of bread, two packages of ham, two packages turkey, one package of pepper jack cheese, one package gouda, one bottle of mayonnaise, and one bottle mustard.  Present also were the sides to include individual bags of chips, apples and oranges; and dessert–nutty bars.  Lastly there were sandwich bags.  All this was resting amidst coolers filled with beer and dinner, a couple camp stoves, their personal cookware, and some French presses lazily soiled with the morning’s coffee grounds.

As socially graceful as possible they all took turns preparing their lunches that they would then carry in various forms of Camelback backpacks.  Each person’s pack matched their personality.  The veteran’s was camouflage, the ladies’, trim.  The photographer’s had pockets large enough for a professional quality camera; the different guy used a modern word for fanny pack.

Once packed, the group packed the unused food in the cars, and grabbed the morning’s trash bags.  Ah, bears.  The probably unnecessary precaution justified itself through the addition of the slight thrill of danger.  That and being prepared is never a bad thing.

The hike now well under way, storm clouds populated the distant horizon.  The group pressed onward.  The intervals between the unseen lighting’s thunderclaps decreased as the distance they traveled above the tree line increased.  A light sprinkle had not yet become annoying as they began to notice most of the blue sky had become shades of grey.

One party became two.

As those with significant others present headed back down, the alone-and-unafraid pressed their luck.

Unifying them all was a hunger.  Friend helped friend as they unzipped each other’s packs and grabbed the sandwiches.  Was it the rain?  Was it the hiking?  Was it the company?   Whatever it was, they had never tasted as good a sandwich as at that moment.  And never had smiles spread so quickly.

Upon finishing their chocolaty peanut butter goodness, the two groups discovered they weren’t so far apart after all.  The clouds parted and the sun’s return was interpreted only as it should have been—the punctuation to the joy incarnate they knew to be lunch on the trail.

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