N ature is out to get me. Try as I might to hug the trees and commune with the woodland creatures, it really does want me dead.
Take the Galapagos Islands. The enchanted islands, they’re called. At least, now they are. When I studied abroad there this summer, my professors told me the first settlers had died of thirst and starvation.
It wasn’t paradise back then. It was arid and inhospitable. Most of the islands are devoid of fresh water. Many of the plants are adapted to deal with the intense salt levels of the islands and store excess water in their leaves. Animals get their water from the food they eat, and the plants, being eaten, do their evolutionary best to avoid it. One tree accomplishes this with poison.
It was late July, and study abroad classes in the Galapagos had just ended. I was camping on a beach. My sleeping bag lay on soft white sand under a canopied umbrella of a shrub. It was rainproof, shady, aesthetically pleasing. Turquoise waves murmured over the shore, the full expanse of the Milky Way glittered overhead. Perfect spot, I thought.
Midway through the evening, nature called. I relieved myself beside the aforementioned shrub. Bladder emptied, I made use of a nearby leaf. Deftly executed, I thought as I returned to my fellow students. No poison ivy in the Galapagos; nothing to worry about, I thought.