Sunday, April 12, 2009

Woods Walking

There is enough wildness even in a managed forest to quiet a restless spirit. My imagination has always roamed more broadly than my feet, so a patch of woods is enough for me to find solace and reclaim whatever parts of me the unforested part of the world has knocked askew. I am a shy person and risk aversive, so how did I wind up here on the edge of the earth? From time to time throughout my life I have walked into patches of woods to get lost to find out where I was.

When I was a school girl in Indiana, the burgeoning population had pushed the city into the country. In the ambiguous zone between the turkey farm and my shiny new school was a patch of woods--an afterthought, perhaps, or an offering to the great woodlands that had once covered the land. At any rate, it was enough for a small girl to imagine that it was a wilderness. I liked to walk into the middle of it and enjoy that frisson of lostness. The woods was small and even with my poor sense of direction and intentional aimless walking, I was in no real danger. The light from the open fields beyond always peeked through the edge--I had only to tilt my head one way or the other or to take a step or two in any direction. but that sense of being out of space and time even for a moment is an important one.

Up here a woods is an especially wonderful place to duck in out of the wind on an otherwise pleasant day. The first step into the woods offers the stillness from the wind and then an insouciant welcome. This woods, though tamed and managed, with well bred paths through it, is not a living room for humans. I am a guest. As has often been the case with my woods walking, I am alone. At first I regret not having a companion. I would like to ask the names of things or to talk about the intriguing pattern of the bark and how that pattern might be imitated in knitting or weaving. But as I move further into the woods, that regret eases out of me and I begin to listen to a deeper voice talking of things too often overlooked outside. I sigh into the soft light air of the woods some of the concerns I brought in with me. They settle into the fine layers of needles on the forest floor, not gone, not solved, but part of a larger fabric.

I follow a path with no regard for where it leads or where the paths fit into the larger pattern. I enjoy the silence of my footsteps, greeting the occasional visitors, and finding the statues tucked into corners of the woods. When I reach a clearing, I admire the recycled art there but choose a path leading back into the woods. Another day I might walk in the bright light. Today I prefer the soft dull browns and greys to the vivid artwork.

At midday the woods is sleeping. The birds are quiet, the trees creak and groan as they rub against each other in their sleep. In this quiet time, I want to think about the tiny details of this world--the lichens, the moss, the bark.


At 6:11 PM, Anonymous ampiggy said...

how beautifully you express things I have only half felt. This 'un's a keeper! I'm glad you have the woods. I'm just about to go outside to do some long-needed cleanup in my flower garden. Sometimes working in a garden can be like what you describe.

At 8:24 PM, Blogger landgirl said...

Oh yes, that feeling can be found in a garden.


Post a Comment

<< Home