Tuesday, January 18, 2011

A Walk in the Woods (Part 1)

Photo credit : (cc-by-nc-nd) Bruno Monginoux / www.Landscape-Photo.net : nature and urban photography, free stock photos

Thoreau went to the woods to live deliberately. Step out of my childhood home and you couldn’t walk in any direction without bumping into a tree. Even though we lived in a vast suburban neighborhood, no homes lay to our left, right, or front. Instead, these vacant lots were home to dozens of sixty-footers. I had no idea if they were oaks, maples, or Kapok. To a child, they were trunks.

Behind the house? Yep, more trees and beyond those was a tiny inlet of Lake Hartwell, giving us the distinction of having a house on the water.

When I dream, this is the house and the yard and the woods that haunt me. Come, let me show you.

We’ll start on the concrete patio, half in the sun, half in the shade under sunroom above. The ping-pong table was under the shady side. The penalty for missing a strong shot was trek into the lawn on one side or under the back deck on the other. Both hid balls better than the Easter Bunny.

Once in the sun, you’d pass a cut-out in the concrete. Pre-1982 this rectangle held boxwoods. In the summer of ’82, my dad put in a concrete pool. Before the lily pads claimed the surface and attracted bullfrogs and dragonflies, before the algae turns the whole thing into a mini-swamp, this 12x6x2 box was an aqua-blue swimming pool. For a month or so, knees were scraped, elbows banged, and breath-holding contests ensued with frantic vigor.

Run down the steps past the birdfeeder, but take care. The ivy grows overnight. It’ll snatch off your Tretorns when you’re not looking. A few stepping stones more, through the back gate and there you are. The trees have you. Twenty yards down the path finds you at the dock.

From this point, a million adventures await. Maybe I’ll continue this thread and take you on some. For now, I’ll just say that I regret living in place without the woods just a hop, skip, and a jump from my back door. Walking under a canopy of trees takes planning these days—a damn shame.

What’s missing in your life? (Other than a literary agent and a publishing contract?)


  1. its amazing how scenery like that can inspire. Sometimes I see a patch of forest or a bridge or pathway and...it's like I'm glimpsing into a different time or place and there's an adventure there to be discovered. Great post! Nope, an agent and book deal is just about all that's missing for me!;)

  2. It's absolutely beautiful! I would love to live somewhere where the woods were close by too :) I agree with Katie, it is very inspiring. There's something so wonderful about sound and smell of nature, isn't there?

  3. Yes, I can't wait for next summer. My husband and I are planning a trip to the Rockies. I've been to Yosemite and it was unreal.


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