Into the wood

I needed to get out of the house today for a number of reasons, all of them selfish as hell. And I don’t feel bad about being selfish for once — I needed to decompress in a major way and the weather was almost perfect for getting the hell out and finding some open space — or, at least, space unconfined by walls.

I’ve mentioned often enough here that I used to roam a forest in Northern Minnesota whenever I could during the summers growing up. For anyone who might remotely care, it was a bit of wooded area about half-way between Pine River and Longville, which is north of Brainerd by about forty-five minutes. My aunt owned a cabin on a medium-sized lake called Hay Lake and most of the summer was spent there, when I wasn’t being dragged all across Montana for about 2-3 weeks every year.

As I’ve also likely mentioned before, I used to follow the narrow paths in the forest where the deer and small animals traversed the area, spending nearly as much time memorizing the trails as I spent swimming in the lake.

And I also have mentioned that the State sold a lumber license to a company that clearcut the whole fucking thing of all of it’s ancient hardwoods and replanted the whole fucking thing with fast-growing white pine, showing zero interest in diversity and all interest in coming back through in 30 years to do the same thing all over again.

If I sound bitter, it’s because I am. Mostly, I expect, because I haven’t found a decent substitute since then. I have no doubt such places exists, I’m just not privy to where really good forests are that aren’t populated as hell with disrespectful tourists from the city. It was my quiet little sanctuary away from the peer bullies when school was in session, and from the familial bullies who also frequented the cabin [I may not have mentioned before that I am the black sheep of the family for initial reasons that still elude me, although I’ve at least given the family reasons to blacklist me since then].

Well, tonight, angst and anxiety finally persuaded me to get the hell out and seek out something remotely resembling that sanctuary of old. I’ve got a lot on my mind right now and very few outlets to express those mind-things — if they were even appropriate things to share with anyone at all. They are those kinds of things best left internalized or shared with someone who knows how to keep things mum. But, the internal storage had been overflowing for some time now and I don’t have anyone today whom I can talk to, so it was time for a short jaunt.

And really, it was a short jaunt.

A few blocks away from where I live is a small plot of land, and acre… maybe… of undeveloped wildlife sanctuary. There is a covenant in place prohibiting and development on the land, and it was reserved exclusively for the purposes of keeping greenspace in the neighborhood. For the 1950s, it was visionary. So, I walked the roughly three city blocks (I live in the suburbs, so there are few actual “blocks” to count) to the park and tromped around in the largely unmaintained wilderness.

view from the trail into the woods
looking back to the “trailhead” I had used to enter.

The trails weren’t always covered with pea gravel. I recall years ago when the trails were sloppy, muddy messes and there were no bridges across miniature rivulets one would only call a stream by virtue of being generous, but muddy “fords” instead. The improvement made to the park are modest and really unobtrusive in their nature. Maintenance is still minimal, which is just fine by the community standards as far as I know.

While there are places in Minneapolis where you can forget you are in a city altogether (early on weekday mornings, anyway) there is still the constant reminder with small engine airplanes flying overhead here, either coming or going to the small airport about 2 miles away.

This evening, I spent about and hour wandering the area, which is quite some feat, considering the small nature of the park, but I tread and retread the meandering trails that cycled around a small pond filled with duckweed and deadwood.

scene from the lone park bench in the park, overlooking a shallow pond.

I would have liked to go off the marked path, as there are some trails left behind by deer and foxes, but I noted the prevalence of poison oak and poison ivy and wisely elected to keep to the beaten trail. Even so, I took the time to check for ticks when I got home. They are not a populous this near the city, but I didn’t trust that fact and checked anyway. I hadn’t sprayed repellent, or taken precautions, so I elected to be paranoid.

I was on a side mission while I was there: to see if I could find a “fairy house” I’d seen near the trunk of one of trees near the path. I think someone took it down, or someone stole/destroyed, because it wasn’t to be found again. The same person likely decided to leave other gifts, however.

butterfly stone.
sunflower stone
“dream” stone.

I’m sure there are more stones, these are just the ones that I saw.

But the highlight of my visit is the tree in the clearing, which reminded me that the park would make a great autumn equinox spot in a few weeks. I keep saying that I mean to get back into getting in touch with the spirits and the old gods and, seeing that small clearing with the single oak made me realize I probably really need to keep that commitment, the way I’ve been feeling these past six to nine months. I need to reconnect to the spirits (I keep saying this and have done little to see that happen). What would you do there on that day? you ask. Honestly, I’m no longer certain. My own beliefs eschew the standard pagan, heathen, druid and wiccan beliefs nowadays. I am not interested in the rituals that other groups have developed, so it might be time to follow my own intuitive approach to honoring the old gods. I’ll have to think on it, but it would be shamanic in nature, and far from the ritualized practices of the standard groups out there. Am I just being contrary? Probably. But I want to cut to the blood and heart and skip the plastic, if that makes any sense at all.

But this is not one of those posts.

a lonely oak in as much of a clearing as you’ll find in the park.

Near that lone park bench, where I found the sunflower and “dream” stones, someone had taken the deadwood and built a bit of a lean-to hut. It was there last year as well, and the folks responsible for the other art/fairy worship were probably also responsible for it. It is maybe big enough to accommodate a child, but I didn’t dare try to sit within it’s walls — although I suspect I might of be able to successfully do so if I played the lotus-legged hermit, sitting on the ground.

fairy fort? hermitage?

I’m glad I took off and explored for a bit, recording some of my thoughts as I wandered the paths, not looking for much at all (aside from that missing fairy house), and letting an empty calm wash over me. It wasn’t the same as those north woods of my youth, but it brought me back to earth a bit and pulled me away from an edge of becoming so frenetically wrapped up in a few things that I likely threatened to damage what I least want to break.

2 thoughts on “Into the wood

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  1. You should definitely go out there again, and soon. Reinforce connections already there. The Old Gods! The bountiful life force that place is!

    Sad about the old forest being mowed down and replanted in a very farm-like way. That breaks my heart – I’ve had similar experiences; mine was the desert at the edge of town, and its ancient stones worn down by millions of years of wind and floods – to my horror get dug up, filtered out and have cookie-cutter beige, stucco mini-mansions planted there instead. Hurts to this day, though life goes on. It simply must!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for the thoughts. Maybe I should have stayed longer today because my earlier sour mood has returned. Such is life.

      Sorry to hear about your desert. It is the same kind of horror all around the world and it makes me sick to my soul.


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