Tuesday, April 5, 2022

Quiet Times: Walking Softly

I fell in love with the forest at Elderberry before we moved here. Can you fall in love with a forest in the winter, when all you can see is the bare bark of trees, roots, rocks, some rustling beech leaves, a few stunted holly trees, and some green groundcover? Oh, yes.

Since last November when my husband, Keith, and I discovered Elderberry, I’ve walked through the forest when the trails were almost hidden by fallen leaves. I’ve walked through it after a sleet storm when everything was frozen and slippery, and then again after a snow fall. I’ve walked through our Elderberry forest after a heavy rain and during a slow, drippy rain. Now that spring is here, I am falling in love with the rainbow of blooming wildflowers.

I have walked these woods in winter with one of the botanists who lives in Potluck Farms nearby, who showed me how to distinguish a sourwood tree from an oak by looking at the bark and the shape of the tree; how to identify an ironwood tree by its trunk; and how to tell apart white oak leaves from red oak leaves even when they are dead and lying on the ground. She showed me the living leaves of the tiny crane-fly orchid: green with purple undersides. She showed me a vast expanse of running cedar – green overcoming the fallen brown leaves as far as the eye could see.

There always has been a deep desire inside of me for the woods – but I was too afraid to walk by myself in the public trails near our former home in Durham, NC. If Keith or a friend didn’t come with me, I didn’t walk. I feel safe now! I can walk alone if I’m feeling meditative, or there are plenty of walking friends here at Elderberry to walk with me.

Just the tips of the trees are showing green these days, but soon there will be an explosion of green in the forest, and I will fall in love all over again. This walking in the woods is ME. This is what I love. I want to continue to walk in this forest every day, and now that Keith and I live at Elderberry, I can do that.

Words and image by Cheryl Lawrence

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