I danced with my dog while I waited to grow. Books were read and discarded while I waited to grow. Freedom was finally granted, I had grown, and I was given passage to the big woods behind our home. The first time was historical, I had gone with my cousins, but now 10 was old enough to travel on my own. I would have to travel through the cow pasture on my way, but I wasn’t intimidated I was 10! Stopping for a quick taste of the salt lick, as I had seen my cousins do, I didn’t realize the bull was out to pasture too. Suddenly from a dark corner I could hear him snorting and I ran for all my life’s worth. He would easily tear me to shreds. Legs pumping, heart racing, I jumped under the rusty barbed wire and fell to safety.
Finally free to put my feet to the well-worn path I breathed a deep sigh. The dark and light green canopy of the woods pulled me in and I felt peace. The tumbling of the river in the distance was a pleasant sound, and I gravitated toward it cautiously. The bank was very high, and not safe in some parts so that I had to concentrate on where I stepped. When I reached the highest point it seemed I could see for miles. I sat down and with my back against a just thick enough sapling I took it all in. The brown rushing water, the exposed roots of trees close to shore, and a movement. Startled I looked closer and was excited to see a red fox on the other shore. Our exchange lasted only a minute, but when our eyes locked I felt he could really see me and he knew I meant no harm. Slowly, he ambled off back to his den. I pulled my Nancy Drew out of my back pocket and read and was not disturbed by my siblings or parents or cousins, in peace.
Years later, driving and friends and high school weighed heavy on my mind and I needed that escape more than ever. When I could carve out a couple of hours I would throw my crusty boots on, grab my dog and a good book and take the trip back to the woods through the now horse pasture. Every step brought me closer to the green peace of my woods, and my cares would fall away. I had grown, but when I returned the 10 year old girl’s heart inside of me soared. College came and went and I would occasionally bring boys home to meet my woods. One in particular brought a guitar and played James Taylor songs softly in the cool comfort of the woods.
Years later I had grown even more and now had a family to take to my woods. Kids running wild, looking for arrowheads and foxes reminded me of the times I had gone en masse with my cousins before I had grown. Now I carry the woods in my heart and mind.