Seeking Solace in the Woods
October 9, 2022
This year has been a struggle with the construction of the parlor, adapting to it and being short on milking labor; which has brought me to tears countless times and made me feel lonely and taken advantage of by my in-laws. I sought solace and company in the woods today. After a side stop to the orchard for an apple, I went across the empty corn fields and lush hay field, not following the contour but trying to go straight for the woods. I munched on the apple as I walked. The trees were painted in gold, yellow, orange and green.
I began to cry half way out. Can the woods even lift my spirits, as low as they are? I should have followed Jesse’s suggestion to spend time with my family today – why didn’t I go to Mom’s? Whilst walking the cornfield, I had to be careful to step over the corn stalks.
Arriving at the edge of the field, I dropped down, literally on my belly to crawl under the fence. The ground is terrifyingly dry; these perfect autumn days are nice but I hope the drought ends soon. Gopher mounds piled along the fence. I waded across the narrow pasture strip, the grass still long and thick despite the drought. Squatting, I crawled under the barbed wire fence separating the pasture from the woods. A break in the buckthorn granted my passage. I ducked under clawing branches. The late afternoon soon filtered through the leaves and tree trunks. I paused to admire a spider web. A deer crashed through the thick underbrush somewhere below. I stood upon a huge drop off.
I turned left following a deer trail. I was frustrated by how loud my footsteps were. Praying as I walked, I sought God’s presence and comfort, and hoped to find the rock that gave me such joy last week. I ducked under branches, trying to avoid tripping on others that littered the ground. Moss covered rocks and logs lay scattered here and there. At times the trail was steep and I held on to trees. Beauty surrounded me but my heart did not soar. Rock outcroppings. Fallen trees. Squirrels making incredible noise. I stepped on something hard, I looked down and saw the ivory white of a deer antler. I knelt down and picked it up. It had been chewed on recently. I held it close as I continued to walk. Crows and bluejays chattered in the treetops. I heard the twittering of other birds too but couldn’t identify them. A chipmunk scurried here and there and then disappeared. I came upon the rocks and climbed up.
As I sit on the rock to write I am distracted by a squirrel moving about in the leaves. Bounding closer, it stops and shakes its tail. It paws through a pile of leaves, digging with its little hands. Then it quickly moves on. I am so tired my vision is blurry. The woods exude beauty and peace but yet my crushed heart isn’t rising up, it’s so beaten it won’t soar. The antler and chipmunk nearly did it, but alas, even they weren’t enough. The squirrel is making a fuss, squawking like a duck. As the sun sinks lower on the horizon, reminding me I need to head back soon, so too my heart sinks lower and lower. I am also beginning to get cold. I must pull myself out of the woods now. But I really don’t want to leave. A chipmunk disappeared into a hole under a gorgeous rock outcropping that keeps drawing my attention.
I slid my notebook and pencil back into my pack and ambled down from the rock. I returned the way I had come, taking less time to stop and observe.
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