I read too much news. Always have. No plans to stop.

Most summers a brief, obscure item pops up somewhere, as it did the other day. Ah yes, the Rainbow Family, is planning its annual gathering in some remote national forest where the Forest Service really doesn’t want the headache and the local populace is amused or fearful.

And then I put down the paper for half a minute and recall my own brief encounter with the Rainbow Family. It was more than 20 years ago when these folks decided to camp out for a few weeks in northeast Minnesota’s glorious Superior National Forest.

OK, “camping out” is one part of the drill. So are nudity, drugs, free spirits and whatever that particular combination of things might lead to. Use your imagination, and you’ll not be wrong. I’m guessing that camping out and being one with nature are not really the chief attractions, but one should not be harsh because these folks do come across as earnest and as hard-core free spirits.

They like to adopt creative names, at least for Rainbow events. (Many, or so they claim, are stock brokers, executives or whatever back in what we think of as the real world.) They are resolutely creative, non-traditional, non-hierarchical and, to the furthest extent possible, non-organized. But word gets around, and they meet.

Journalists, sadly, are trained to play it straight, which in a situation such as this just makes you a fun sponge. “So, Mr. Fire Hawk – may I call you Fire? – what is your sense of the gathering so far?” But part of being a free spirit, I guess, is a certain indulgence with fools and others who probably will leave as soon as you answer enough inane questions. Besides, as they put it, everyone experiences their own movie. Journalism? Sure. Wow.

The Forest Service points to the obvious contradiction between the image of Earth children dancing naked under the moon and the more harsh reality of masses of people putting an ecological burden on the land and water. Sanitation and clean water are always concerns, but the Rainbow folks say they get it and do what they can. They’re freaky, but they’re OK.

At some point in the journalistic process – whether listening to someone talk about “green energy’” (money) or watching the less-than-dressed frolic in the lake – one inevitably comes to that moment: Could I ever see myself doing this? Just let it all go. Sit and be, watch and listen, and groove with whatever vibe comes along. Reach out to the cosmic whatever.

No. I prefer a shower every day, and the newspaper. And the cosmic whatever and I are as fully in sync as we’re likely to get, though a little one-person retreat in the woods doesn’t sound bad right now.

I appreciate free spirits. The world needs more of them. I for one take a bit much comfort in being conventional. Always have. No plans to stop.

Follow Jeff Fox on Twitter @Jeff_Fox.