The woods don’t know what day it is. Oh, they know the season, they see if it’s sunlight or dark, dawn or dusk; they know the bright stars and the noon-day heat, see snow or mushrooms, green leaves or red leaves or no leaves at all. But, the day of the week? Nope. They don’t care. When you enter the woods, the trees grasp you with that fact, and shower you with the silent vacuum of weeklessness; no schedule overload, no dinging of alarms, no clocks with hands — all stresses suspended. The weekday does not dictate the behavior of the woods, nor yours, once you are in it. You can say that for the sea, the prairie grasses, the desert rocks and sands as well; they are too wise to be caught up in all that nonsense, the rat race of the week, the human race of scurrying among endless self-assigned blocks of time.

I often haunt my forest. Drift through, linger about, wander, float. I unearth bugs and bones, watch animals from afar. I am invisible in the trees. Hours can be easily lost there, schedules suspended. Snowshoeing, hiking, sitting, reading on a log, napping in a patch of sunshine, hammocking (it’s a verb, now). It’s all possible in your own patch of woods. Exploring ravines and building tiny dams in the tiny river and wading in the tiny pool you’ve made, cutting branches, toting wood, tending fires. It’s what some find a constructive use of time, but others may call loafing. I’m really good at that, loafing. The thing is, my kind of loafing gives me good story ideas and lovely poems, mental stability and pretty good muscles. I’ve taught my children to do the same. To loaf. My youngest son regularly emerges from the treeline with very nice homemade bows and arrows. Happiness is watching the kids disappear into the woods. I’m pretty sure they’ll come back. They always have. I know they’ll have a good time. We’ve no “real” trails; ours are more like the ones the deer make. Those of the least resistance. They tend to form themselves by us and by the deer out of common sense.

(Copyright © 2021 APG Media)

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