Last week, we headed up to the hills to search out some chantrelle mushrooms. We found a small handful, nothing to write home about like in other years, but the colors of the woods and the beautiful weather that day, so nice!
Even though we are a group that gets out of doors plenty, we don’t really get out into the woods nearly as often as we would like. That dreaded word–busy–seems to so often trump most days. But not as many days at this time of the year, and learning that balance just won’t look the same in the thick of summer as it does in the fall and winter is a good lesson. Seeing the whole cycle, I see that there is a balance to that busy, and that is good.
But, as great as getting outside is in general, the power of the forest is still its own magical thing.
Depending on their age, the kids “feel” different things when we first get into it. Sometimes they enter with the general happy to be out in nature attitude of the very small, or with the wild to be in the wild feeling of the older and rambunctious young boy; but sometimes, for certain among them, they have this period where they enter with a feeling of intimidation, the smallest traces of fear. It can take a lot of breathing for those small ones to really let go and get into the better parts of the forest then. And it can take a lot of patience from the grown ups who came along, who just know there are no monsters lurking out there behind the trees but also know that it is unkind to be flippant about such real and powerful feelings.
Besides, maybe we remember a little of that feeling ourselves. The forest is mysterious, alive. It can be an unsettling place. Familiar but so unfamiliar.
But even when we have a child or two in that phase, we eventually all are able to connect with that wild place. We do all get to the point where we don’t ever want to leave.
On this visit, the boys were begging us to leave them for the week! Have you ever felt that way? Oh, I do! I spent as much time as I could manage making little homes out of the forests of this country as I travelled in the summers of my college days. I remember so many times wishing I could just stay out there where everything seemed undeniably True.
Any searching you take with you, the woods seem to quiet and calm. You find things. Small things–textures, colors, sounds–and big things–poetry, peace, reverence. The pace is slow, you inevitably relax.
We didn’t find very many mushrooms this time. But we always find something.
And since I mentioned that this is the month for paying attention to those things we are grateful for, I should say that I am so very grateful for the proximity of the woods to us, our quick and easy access to them, and all of our minutes there.
Growing up in rural Nebraska, roaming rolling pasture at will when I was just a sprite, walking barefoot just five minutes to the banks of a gentle river where I spent hours upon hours working out the pesky details of growing up, and then spending one year in a city where I learned pretty quickly I did not belong, I have never had to go very long without recharging in nature. I have never experienced the newly coined nature-deficit disorder. In so many ways, it is hard for me to imagine the lives where this is possible.
But I am also acutely aware that my experience is limited. And even though my presumption each time I visited a city was that each one was essentially the same and essentially not for me, I have spent some time in them. The farmer himself is from southern California. I see how cement can cover most things and how city parks can only go so far to undo that.
And so, since it is for me to need the forest, I am very thankful to have it. I am actually quite thankful to have not only the forest, but the mountains, and the ocean, and some wonderful rivers close by too. Surrounding our lovely farm valley, welcoming my need to still my soul in their presence.
And just close enough, we have a pretty wonderful city to visit so that I can always gain some perspective once in a while.
How often do we get to remember that we may just have everything we need, right outside the door.