"Total Submersion" Finale: Forest Ranger Fantasy

Staying firmly committed to "Total Submersion," I shared with my wife my fantasy/desire to join the professional ranks of forest rangers.

Sasquatch siting
I began this submersion by describing my very own lookout tower located high above the forest canopy. I’m wearing a deep olive-colored uniform and smartly coordinated brimmed hat featuring the official emblem of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. My legs bulk up like giant-sized steel pistons from the daily climb up the steep tower stairs. The hot sun tans my sensitive skin and leaves behind provocative lines separating white from bronze. My auburn hair and ranger’s hat float in the clouds as I enjoy a freedom few men experience. And every once in awhile, I break the forest ranger code of ethics by peeing off the top tower deck, from 300 feet above ground, after carefully calculating wind direction and velocity.

With my high-powered binoculars, I scan the horizon, first inspecting the eastern treetops, then the south, finishing with west and north. I’m a sentinel, a protector of animals large and small, of fauna green and brown, of bugs that crawl and fly. They all depend upon me, even though their tiny brains and chlorophyll cells can’t communicate admiration for anyone or anything. But I don’t require affirmation from others to motivate me to return, day after day, to this forest perch.

As I stand vigilante, my eyes and nose search for something that every ranger never hopes to find, something destructive, something evil. The mere thought of this wickedness causes my entire body to tremble, despite my valiant efforts to suppress the cavalcade of fear. Yet, I need to appear calm, at all times, for the sake of the woodland critters that have learned the nuances of my human emotions and expressions. The way my eyebrows bend, my mouth turns, my nostrils flare.

Then one day, the evil arrives.

“What’s that, off toward the southeast, between Beaver Creek and Mt. Thunderbolt?” Could it be? I implore it’s not, finishing the Lord’s Prayer, begging for protection of the trees and their inhabitants. The puff of smoke appears as a dark grey mass and then quickly dissipates over the span of five to ten seconds, first leaving behind slight swirls and then nothing, not even a trace. I smash the binoculars into my eye sockets with excruciating force.

The smoke must have been produced by a conscientious backpacker sprinkling canteen water over a dying campfire. I survey the landscape and hunt for the meticulous forest visitor who doused his campfire ashes. Most people who love nature return the outdoors to its unspoiled state. That was the only plausible explanation. I keep attempting to find a small amount of reassurance about the hiker’s presence. Nothing.

Rangers are anal, though, so I visually sweep the entire forest, miles from the original sighting of smoke, in every direction. My only regret from the fateful day is that I should have discontinued my search a few moments sooner. Because if I had quit, “they” would have gone unnoticed. The brief movement of a dark silhouette grabs my binoculars, as if a poltergeist was yanking them in the direction of the mysterious shadows.

Adrenaline takes over. I race down the tower’s stairs, which seem to be multiplying each time I turn a corner to lunge down another flight of steps. My feet eventually land on solid ground and they keep sprinting towards the direction of the vanished smoke and the disturbing forest images. Had my eyes, aided by the binoculars’ magnification, really seen the eerie silhouettes? Or after weeks of loneliness, with no human contact, was my fragile psyche attempting to feed my starvation for a social encounter, to reward me with the company of another living soul? 

I finally arrive near the spot, at least my best guess at where the two shadows converged. The slight wind dies down and the loudest sound is now my deep breathing, which gradually subsides as my lungs recover and relax. Silence overwhelms the woods. Then an acorn lets loose from an oak tree and crashes to the ground, sounding like grenade against the contrast of forest’s tranquility.

I study every tree and hope to notice the tiniest of improprieties, something that doesn’t fit in, at least according to my interpretation of what belongs in a forest. Then suddenly, I spot it. The arm and its elbow peek out from behind the trunk of a pine tree. A thick mat of black hair covers the appendage, contrasting it against the tree’s grey bark. The arm abruptly jerks out of sight. I begin to walk cautiously, moving sideways to try and secure a more complete line of sight. Is the hairy arm attached to the person, the thing, the “it” that legends described? Sasquatch, Yeti, Bigfoot, the Missing Link?

“It” is them, five in all. The first one appears amidst a small grove of shade trees. Two more slide sheepishly into plain view, out from behind a massive granite rock. The final two emerge from a patch of brush and tall plants, with leaves sticking to the pair’s matted coats.

They gather together in a tightly clustered group. Yep, they are definitely Bigfoots, standing approximately seven to eight feet tall with long, stringy, brown hair from head to toe. Their arms hang below their knees. And their faces, yes those primitive contours, contain almost feminine features, with rounded cheekbones and dense hair. My gaze eventually drifts south and notices the lack of any fifth appendage and accompanying parts. This specific discovery becomes quickly relevant.                       

Over the next 90 minutes, they each have their way with me, which is not totally unpleasant, just different than I’m used to with a civilized female. My feelings are a little hurt – I would have appreciated a little foreplay. And two of them became quickly bored with me and instead ravished each other, at least that’s how I interpreted their scratches and grunts.

After satisfying their lust, they wander off, one by one, into the thick American jungle, leaving me exhausted on the forest’s floor. Lying there in my tattered clothes, I gaze skyward and count the cumulus clouds as they slowly drift overhead. I wonder if any of them will call, write or text? I hope the one with the crooked toes contacts me first – she was my favorite, aggressive yet accommodating.

I hike back to the tower area, stumbling along the way. My ranger shirt flaps open in the breeze, the buttons having been violently stripped by the indifferent Sasquatch. As my legs make it over the last fern-covered knoll, horror and mayhem greet me near the tower’s base. My eyes lock on the angry flames as they engulf the wooden slats of the staircase. In just several minutes, the tower turns to cinders along with the dry and combustible vegetation. All I can think about is my cool ranger’s hat and if the Forest Service brass will allow me to keep it following my court martial.

Total submersion requires husbands to share excruciating levels of detail, like my forest ranger daydream chronicled above. Should I have left out some of the minutia and intimacy? Sometimes a husband manages his own domain with basic instincts, with gut. There’s no time for analysis or pondering consequences. Like the time I conducted triple secret weapons research near the Polar Icecap. Who knew that abominable snowwomen don’t enjoy having their paws tickled?

(next post: "Hey Mister! Are You a Creepy Old Guy?")