Other Things Can Fall in the Forest Besides Trees

I have doubts about my ability to pee in the forest.

This from a person who was once able to carry a bag of groceries in one arm, a baby in the other, and squat down to pick up dropped house keys.

Peeing in the forest requires squatting. Moreover, it requires standing up after squatting. These have become physical actions that, for me, require great planning, concentration, and will (mind over matter) to accomplish. There is also risk involved.

Not squatting quite enough is one. (I’ll let you sort that out.) Squatting adequately but having nothing to grab to support the lift to a standing position. And last, falling over.

How is this relevant to anything? Well, when one is camping, one often doesn’t want to walk a couple hundred yards in the dark to the pit toilet. It is creepy even with a flashlight, perhaps more so than just stumbling in the dark and then there’s the matter of where to put the light while in the pit toilet. It’s all dreadful. Hence, the attractiveness of peeing in the forest, even though that has its own nightmarish possibilities.

The squatting challenge is also relevant to my participation in a fundraiser for a homeless outreach group I work with. Every year we do a 48-Hour Challenge in which we live outside on the streets (and forests) of Milwaukee for a weekend. There are plenty of gas stations and public restrooms but the most available place to pee, especially at night, is, yes, the forest. And I’m fine with that. I can be kind of a rough, old sweatshirt from Goodwill kind of gal. I’m not dainty or fussy. I know how to keep a wad of toilet paper in my jeans pocket.

But I’m not 100% sure that if I squat in the forest to pee that I will be able to stand up afterward and then what?

I’ll be like the lady in the TV ads lying on the floor sobbing “I’ve fallen and I can’t get up!” Would people come then with a stretcher and oxygen? And would someone pull my zipper up? Good lord. I shouldn’t have to think of these things after all I’ve been through.

I’d like to think that this squatting issue is temporary, that my left knee will heal up, and soon I’ll be out there again squatting and peeing with the best of them. That’s my hope anyway. My goal.


Photo by Sebastian Unrau on Unsplash

11 Comments on “Other Things Can Fall in the Forest Besides Trees

  1. I spent a weekend in Tent City (Lubbock, Texas) back in … oh… 2012 or so. I was new to the scene but amazed at how helpful the homeless were in my urban plunge – they set up my tent FOR me, among other things. Then came the advice: put down cardboard under the tent (goat head stickers!). AND if I needed to pee in the night, there was a port-O-potty at the other end of the compound, but most of the men in the camp keep a widemouthed water bottle on hand. The important part was NOT TO CONFUSE your waste bottle with your drink in the dark!

  2. Jan, since my hip surgery I have become much more appreciative of issues like you describe.
    It puts me in mind of a urological surgeon I worked with who was kind of rough with his patients until he came down with a vile urinary tract infection. After recovering he was sooooo careful for his patients comforts. experience can be a great teacher of humility

  3. Yes. It’s always good to have a goal! (I’m going to spare you my squatting stories. But I don’t camp anymore.)

  4. Try to find a log about toilet height, then perch the back of your butt on it. I’ll let you fill in the other details. I have found this method means that you don’t have to pee on your jeans and is much gentler on the knees.

  5. we take so many things for granted, hopefully your knee heals and strengthens soon

  6. Ah yes. My most inglorious moment was trying to pee off the side of a boat, in the dark, with 13 other people sleeping on the deck with me. Yes, a crew member in the control tower thought I was jumping over the side and put the searchlight on me. Yes, three Indonesian crew members pulled me back over the side with my pants around my ankles. Yes, everyone woke up. Not my finest hour.

      • This happened traveling on a WWII tank carrier left over from WWII. We were all trying to get to Bali from where we had been marooned by the monsoons and was the only way to get from East to West Timor. Not the worst that could have happened as I later learned those seas were inhabited by Bugis pirates.

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