Last Sunday, my walk through the woods was interrupted by an unfortunate circumstance. A motorist misread a map; it created a problem and I tried to help. It was a cold and sunny day and quite pleasant in spite of it all.
This Sunday was grey and snowy and I made sure there would be no unfortunate circumstances during my time walking through the woods.
My usual woods walk starts at my grandfather’s old potato field. I’ll walk around the circumference of the field until I get to the shady place in the upper corner. Then I walk down a hill, into the woods. Even though it feels like I’m heading into uncertainty, this entire piece of land borders the power line on one side. No matter how much my contemplation and imagination distract me, I will end up under a telephone pole and know exactly where I am again.
This Sunday, I took a different path and headed into the woods on the other side of the field. They were, indeed, lovely, dark and deep. Sometimes what appeared to be a healthy young tree would snap out of the ground as I grabbed it for balance. Denied light by the larger trees, it was a hollow shell. The forest is a battleground in many ways; all the trees and shrubs reaching upward and vying for the light. Some survive.
I followed a stream and the blaze orange tape on the trees. Many marked trees look alike and I mistakenly assumed that these were the boundaries of our property. I figured that if Uncle Bob had walked through these woods marking the trees, eventually I would end up somewhere near my father’s hackmatack tree.
It was almost lunch and I had promises to keep later in the day. I started looking for signs of a clearing. After a few more minutes of walking, I came to the edge of a field. I looked to my right and could see a barn and a farm house. These buildings didn’t look familiar. I walked through the field, past some farm equipment and towards the telephone poles along the road. When I got to the road, I looked to my right and to my left and still didn’t know where I was. I walked to the farm house and asked a man where I might be, explaining that I had been walking through the woods. He said “it’s a good day for it.” Then he told me the name of the road I was on and redirected me. I’d have to get back to my starting point by following the town roads since there was no way I could find my way back through the woods.
I was glad to know where I was but discouraged by the amount of ground I would need to travel. I thought about how little I actually knew about navigation and even though I had my i-phone with me, I hadn’t bothered to check the compass or the GPS. Surely, I had earned a Girl Scout badge once to prove that I could find my way in the woods?
That was a long time ago
There is a bumper sticker that says, “not all those who wander are lost.” It’s actually from a poem by J.R.R. Tolkein. It’s true. All who wander may not be lost. They might just be like me, turned around a bit and trespassing.