Fall really is the best season for going to the woods. Wherever yours are--those special forested places you return to, each time claiming more of it your own-- you need to be in them right now. It is just the right mix of warm and cool, like a good jazz song. The smell of decaying wood, the sound of tissue paper leaves blowing against each other before they succumb to their fate and fall. These are the siren songs that call me forth.
Our city has many parks, and for that we are fortunate. The weather this morning would have made a fine day on the teeter totter and slides, but the girls and I had a more primal calling.We needed rocks to climb and stones to throw into the river with a grand kerplunk. Birds called to us, and so we followed until we found those woodpeckers picking their way through tree bark to the beetles decaying the oaks. We ran through leaf piles just to hear the sound.
Our special place on Petrie Island keeps us busy through the seasons with its beach in summertime, ice jams across the riverbank in winter, hiking trails in fall and puddles in springtime. I wondered as we crossed the wooden bridge if I should have packed the sand toys today, but the thought was quickly dismissed. The rocks, twigs and leaves were sufficient for over an hour's play to unfold.
Everyone can have a place, too. A special forest that changes with the seasons but stays the same in the familiar tree trunks, waterways and bird life. We have ours, a short drive away, and I am so redeemed when my girls ask to go there. It makes me feel like I am doing well as their tour guide, introducing them to the wonders that lie beneath rotting logs and in treetops, seeing their faces mirror my fascination as we uncover another natural mystery. That reassurance carries me through the day's tantrums, freakouts, spills and frustrations. Those come, without a doubt, but our special place in the woods reminds me that "all good things are wild and free." (Thoreau)