I grew up traipsing through the woods. We called them "woods," my friends and I, but really, they were just a dense strip of trees big enough to hide in when the leaves were full in the summer, and small enough to see to the other side in the winter. I loved those woods with its Maples, Birches and Oaks. The snap of twigs underfoot, the smell of damp dirt and sour, leaf decay, the belly scratches from tree climbing and then watching those same trees turn yellow or orange or red in the Fall - those were some of my happiest moments as a child.
We created whole worlds in that narrow strip of trees. We built houses, hunted bears, kissed frogs and got poison ivy over and over and over again. I didn't know it then, but we communed with those trees. We knew which ones could support us and which ones were better to just lie underneath. We knew which branches would keep us dry if it began to rain and which ones were best for swinging. We etched our names and the names of the boys we loved in those trees. We ate the wild berries and wore some paths right down to the roots. That narrow strip of woods was our playground in the summer and our pathway to our elementary school in the winter. We were as comfortable there as we were in our own homes.
This week we are refinancing our house. We're signing a 30 year, fixed mortgage and in essence making a huge committment to stay put for the long-term. We moved here almost six years ago thinking it would be relatively temporary, but the real estate market changed drastically in that time and well, our plans had to change now that our house is worth much less than what we paid for it.
But I'm okay with it, with all of it. This home is where my children were born and now, most likely, where they will grow up for the forseeable future. ("Foreseeable future"...Ha! Isn't that a silly phrase?!)
As we're making this committment to deepen our roots I start to think of all the things my kids will grow up having in this neighborhood including the trail I ran today and that clearing under a canopy of evergreens.
As I stood there I imagined my kids playing there in a few years. I imagined what kinds of worlds they would create among these Firs, Cedars and Cyprus'. Would they have bears in them like mine? I wondered which trees they would climb and sit under and swing from and carve their names into. I imagined that instead of poison ivy Brooke and Brady will come home with sticky tree sap in their hair. My wild berries were red; theirs will be black.
I hope they'll play here. I hope they'll feel just as safe and free and at home in this forest as I did in my woods because as a parent I want them to have all the good things I had and more-- better even. If this lush forest is any indication, they will.
But more than having a familiar forest to grow up in, I hope more than anything else that they learn to commune with trees...
...and they never stop doing it.
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