My first-year composition students have just started reading (by my requirement, of course--first-year students don't read anything you don't tell them to read) the book Refuge by Terry Tempest Williams. I asked them what their "refuge" might be. Some of them looked at me blankly. I tried again. Ok, well, what do you do when you are really upset? When you want to feel safe and protected? Oh! That!
Several young men said that they like to get in their cars and take a long drive with the stereo cranked up. A few women said they like to take a long walk away from other people. One guy said he loved to just sit under a tree. Many kids said they love to go camping, and that started a discussion about sitting around a campfire, staring at the glowing embers or at the starry night sky, and the wonderful sleep you sleep in the out-of-doors with the rhythmic crickets and something rustling in the leaves.
The room got quiet for several long moments as we all smiled our internal smiles at the memory of our own personal "refuges."
After a delicious and warm silence, one usually very quiet young man said, "I don't see how you guys can possibly sleep outside in a tent. I've always been scared to death to fall asleep in case the elephants come crashing through the forest again."
Buh? Stunned silence. Then, everyone turned to look at the speaker. In unison, we all "Bwahahahaa-ed" our lungs out.
We had forgotten this guy was from the southern tip of India.
I won't be bitching about those pesky mosquitos anymore.