This morning I went walking in the woods with my 89-year-old father and his friend Briggs. Their walk takes them through private land (they have the owner’s blessing to be there) and partly through a nature preserve. They’ve been doing this walk several times a week for the past three years, and even though my dad no longer lives on the island, he still comes out here three or four times a week just to walk in the woods. Walking the suburban streets near his apartment building just can’t compare.
I usually walk by the water near my house, so it’s been a while since I’ve joined Pop in the woods. He can’t wait to show me the new green moss on tree trunks and pathways, the osoberry leaves standing at attention, the lacy huckleberry strands just starting to bud. The whole forest is slowly, slowly filling up to bursting. It’s that time of late winter/early spring when death and decay live side by side with new birth. Tightly wound spirals of new sword ferns grow up out of last year’s dead fronds. Underfoot, tiny green shoots grow up through last year’s disintegrating maple and alder leaves. And dead Doug fir and cedar needles, the color of burnt ochre with a touch of terra cotta, are strewn everywhere.
“Doesn’t it just make you feel rejuvenated?” Pop asks me. “Yes!” I smile. I wander over to a grove of cedar and salal as he and Briggs rest on a bench and discuss whether or not Nixon really did order the FBI to have the Hells Angels distribute speed to antiwar protestors back in the 70’s. (Dad scoffs while Briggs attempts to prove his point, all in a friendly manner.) Then I hear my dad whisper, “She sees things other people don’t, you know,” meaning things in the forest. Which I suppose is true, but I also know enough to know that I don’t see nearly as much as others who are more woodwise than me.
“Joanna,” Briggs says, “Dean and I just don’t know why more people don’t take this walk. Don’t you think this world would be a much better place if everyone started their day off with a walk in the woods?”
“Yes,” I say, “but aren’t you glad more people don’t know about it?”
“Well, yes. As a matter of fact, yesterday we had a traffic jam right here at this spot — there were the two of us and Clyde (his dog). Then Diana came by with Smokey (her dog) and then another woman came by with her dog!” I just have to laugh — four humans and three dogs constitute a traffic jam in the deep woods on this little island.
May it always be so.
(Note: This experience wove its way into the Gaian Tarot Ten of Earth.)