Ever since I can remember I've been running off into the woods to play. When I was a child I would run away all the time. Never more than just a day or two. The only time I got caught was when I stayed away for a week. The first girl I loved disappeared with me deep into the woods and together we had the time of our lives. She wanted to learn about the freedom I had found in the woods and I was more than happy to share it. I spoke with her years later. It made me happy to learn that she still enjoyed long walks in the shade of the trees.
My family lived on a farm when I was a child. The farm was surrounded by deep dark woods with towering trees. There were trails going everywhere that the animals would use. To me it was a magical kingdom and in my child like mind it was a constant adventure. The trees needed to be climbed, the creeks needed to be splashed in, snakes and frogs existed to be caught and played with and the trails needed to be followed to see where they led.
My father taught me at an early age how to identify the different trees and what animal made what tracks. I would follow the tracks of animals like deer or raccoons. Sometimes I would spend hours walking slowly, not making a sound, just to catch a brief glimpse of the animal I would be stalking. It would always fill me with amazement.
I wouldn't have to go very far into the woods around our place before I would be able to see the Chesapeake Bay. I would have to go through swampy areas to reach the marsh that surrounded this part of the bay but it was always worth the trip. I learned how to fish, catch crabs and walk into the marsh to find clams and muscles. To me, heaven its self couldn't have been better.
I'm a grown up now, or at least that's what everyone keeps telling me, but that little boy is still inside me. The instant I step into the woods or take a boat out on the water that little boy comes to life. I can still look up into the tree tops and dream. Every sound made fills me with wonder. Every new sight is like a brand new discovery for my mind. Even a simple puddle of water, left from a recent rain, turns to magic right before my very eyes.
I think maybe that I have a hole hidden deep inside my soul. Only the deep wood is ever able to fill this hole. I think that maybe, just maybe my children have this same hole too. Now I get to take them with me, exploring the hidden places just like my father did for me and his father did for him. They are learning to fish and identify the trees and animal tracks. They are even learning what plants are safe to eat and how to get clean water. We love to grab a few bed rolls, fill a pack with a few pounds of gear and disappear into the trees together. I get to watch there eyes fill with wonder as they respond to each little new thing they discover.
I recently visited the spot where my families farm used to be. It has been turned into a massive landfill. Most of the woods are gone and the few remaining clumps of trees that still stand are now void of all life. Even the water is filled with pollution. It is incredibly sad to see a place, once filled with so much life and love, so utterly destroyed. I am told it was done in the name of progress. More and more people are moving to Maryland you see. The wild places are vanishing to make room for new homes, or in my case the family farm was destroyed to give us a place to hide our trash.
The deep woods are vanishing, as if they never existed at all...All for a thing called progress...Concrete replaces meadows, people replace animals and man pushes ever onward....Even the Bay, once teaming with life, has water so toxic that man cannot touch it without risk to his health.....All for a thing called progress........