An Excerpt from Jim Conrad's
of February 15, 2004
written in the woods not far east of Natchez, Mississippi, USA


On a couple of mornings this week it rained too hard for campfires, so on those days I made do with raw oatmeal, pecans and cold water. A friend suggested that I should get an electric hotplate. If such days came along more often, I probably would, but, since such occasions are rare, I told my friend that I prefer to keep depending on campfires.

One reason is that I would regret having a hotplate deny me the pleasure of occasionally rediscovering how wonderful hot meals are. In my experience, continual comfort and ease blunt the senses and make us forget how lucky we are most of the time. Just imagine what a pleasure it'll be when this cold, rainy period finally ends and the sun shines through! Will I not experience that moment more exquisitely than anyone who every day this week has enjoyed his or her hot meals and cups of steamy tea or coffee?

In fact, maybe, by having my days of raw oatmeal, pecans and cold water, in the long run I am indulging my senses as intemperately as any kid with a lollipop. Maybe the accomplished sensualist practices disciplined and highly selective abnegation in order to "keep the palate clean," and keep the body's hungry senses honed for rare epicurean events.

Maybe it's true that the practitioners of many or most austere-looking lives know that less is more -- that the disciplined lives of hermits and monks can actually be more voluptuous than any season of general meat and potatoes.

At least, I just like to fancy such notions when it's cold and rainy, and I'm sitting with my raw oatmeal, pecans and cold water. Facebook Icon.