There is something about taking a walk through the woods that summons thoughts of childhood. Is there anything more magical than stumbling upon a door in the side of a hill overgrown with ivy, or a long deserted cabin nestled amidst a grove of cedars?
When I was a young girl, I used to search out groupings of evergreens where I would set up my home. The first task was to sweep the dirt floor and define the “walls” with old sheets and blankets. There was the typical set of domestic tools to accomplish my tasks: an old chipped mug, an apron, and several bowls and plates for baking lovely earth pies. Of course while the pies were baking I had quite a selection of well-loved books that I would bring for stealing away to my second story- high up in the sap covered limbs of my enchanted world.
Now older, I have a home of my own in which I am blessed to live out the continuation of those childhood fantasies. I no longer feel the need to play house in the woods of my dreams; however, there is still magic to be held in the woods for me these days. As I watch my children create worlds of their own making in places where I once did the same, I relive the wonder through them. After reading to them countless editions of Beatrix Potter’s whimsical works, I half expect Squirrel Nutkin to join us on our romps or Miss Tiggiewinkle to appear in the grove to collect my children’s play laundry. As we pass that door in the side of the hill, I imagine that I smell the “singey” scent of her ironing Tom Titmouse’s little dicky shirtfronts.
There is a special awareness that occurs in the woods for the young and not-so-young alike. The stillness there centers our thoughts, directing them swiftly towards reflection or creation. The atmosphere lends easily to remembering the past, grounding us in the present and inspiring us for the future.
As much as I can appreciate such quiet self-reflection, I believe the best part of immersing ourselves in nature is when our thoughts shift from our lives to something outside of ourselves. We are stilled to hear God speak, to stand in awe of the intricate lives of all that is growing and breathing around us. The ants diligently work underneath ceilings of crisp leaves. The birds compose achingly sweet melodies, mostly unnoticed by human ears.
If you look hard enough, perhaps you too will find yourself noticing little Jenny Wren and her wine stained tablecloth; and was it your imagination or did that bunny that just crossed your path seem to be collecting lavender for old Mrs. Rabbit’s special tobacco blend? Perhaps, you have also noticed the puddle ducks, head down in the pond, searching for the kitten’s pinafores and tuckers?