Nature scares me. Terrifies me even.
So why did I find myself camping out beside the Atlantic Ocean one night last fall? The Cape Breton Highlands National Park in Nova Scotia is a landscape where steep cliffs drop off to a roiling ocean and moose and bears roam free. It’s the kind of place where my normal free-floating anxiety finds plenty of reasons to expand into full-blown panic.
On this particular night, the ocean waves sound like thunder as I set up camp with my husband, Jesse, and our friend Ben right before dark. It’s turning cold, so we’re among only a handful of other campers. The raging wind lifts the fly from our tents as we set up, compelling us to use extra ropes and pegs. Then we make our way to the beach for a midnight drink.
By now, it’s pitch black. To see an arm’s length in front of you requires turning your headlamp on full blast. The ocean sounds like a freight train in front of me, but my ear catches another sound. What was that? I whip my head back toward land, tracing its source to a split between two tall crags. I imagine what might materialize.…