This is my written ode to the trees that keep me sane. How I have missed you! Come to mama.
I need to be out of doors. Truly. It was lesson number 1 of my back sprain quarantine. (Other lessons included- chairs are evil, don’t fling 50 pound bags of anything over and over or ever, it’s easy to lose your confidence when you are isolated at home, and I can crochet while lying down.)
Yeah, a back sprain. Sounds weird, doesn’t it? It’s even weirder to explain: “Uh, I think it happened when I was flinging 50 pound bags of dirt last spring or else I was picking up my free weights incorrectly… The sacroiliac joint got pulled out of place… then I drove a lot of people around and sat in waiting rooms and hospitals for a few months, keeping the ligaments from tightening up in the right position and so…uh… now I can’t sit in certain chairs for very long because they make the joint slip out of place. Once I get it in the right place I have to keep it there for 6 to 8 more weeks. So, I can’t drive, or sit in a church pew, or go to the movies for more than 20 minutes a day for a few months… and, uh… I really shouldn’t sit too much at all, but I’ve got this nagging ankle injury too, so…”
I don’t know many people with a real attention span, so I’d lose them at the word “flinging.” And I guess it’s disinteresting, unless you’re my parent. Oh wait, my dad turned the tv up as I was trying to explain it to him. Never mind.
Point is I am a free woman again!! Free to go where I want, within reason, and to do it without a chaperone. I don’t have to be “crazy almond butter cat woman on the couch” anymore, unless I feel like it. I don’t have to ride everywhere lying shotgun, seat cranked all the way back, and my husband driving me while I got looks.
During my rehab time, I was so happy when I got opportunities to get outside. By outside I mean somewhere besides my backyard and walking around my city.
Our childhood woods were just a thin patch of trees between the elementary school and the cemetery. But it was enough for me to pretend I was a Native American walking in silence, like in A Light in the Forest, or an explorer. I played and ran through those sparse trails so many times as a girl that I still have dreams about them. They are a housing subdivision today.
Any time I could get out in the forest with my Brownie troop or a church day camp group, I relished the ability to hide or run, screaming like a banshee, in woodland chase. There was some tying of our youth director to a tree and some discipline for leaving my girl scout trail buddy to go further into the woods than anyone else wanted to, but you can’t let a suburban child with a heart for nature loose among the trees without a bit of wildness.
All this to say that my husband drove me, as I lay back in the passenger seat, like a knitting gangsta, to The Big Thicket for the day, as in the photos above.
Then we went camping at Village Creek as a family with our kids, my son-in-law, and his little brother for a few days (below). There was a campfire, trails, meals in which everyone contributed, marshmallows, and canoeing. I had time to laze about in a hammock and knit on my Journey sweater. What more could I want? There was also one rainy night, which I kind of love when sleeping in a canvas topped pop-up.
My children inherited the need for trails from me. They just didn’t, or don’t, know it until adulthood, as evidenced on my son’s face, below.
When my daughter was three I’d take her to a park with a tiny bit of trees and I’d run the trail with her in a jogging stroller. She’d let me as long as we played Pocahontas afterward. We usually took this drama to the nearby playground where all the children, and their parents, heard my impersonation of Pocahontas’ father. I do a mean Chief Powhatan. Later I’d push both of of my children in a double jogger down a larger trail system in the Pineywoods. Then I’d unbuckle them and it would be a setting for pretend space exploration. Because trees and creeks and trails aren’t exciting enough.
As they got older. I found that the best conversations happened on the trail, even if they didn’t originally want to go. And they never originally wanted to go. The most hardened of teenagers will open up after an hour of hiking. I think my memories of laughing and hearing their stories about schools and friends that they’d never told me before is my favorite thing about family vacations. Because, my kids are funny. I remember hearing about things that secretly scared my daughter and my son’s antics under the bleachers during Friday night games. Oh, guys, I’m so full of longing as I type this that I might burst, or weep.
No, I’ll save it for when she graduates from college Friday… or when they move.
I have a feeling nature will be my solace when that happens. Also, my daughter says we can visit and camp with them a lot, so why cry? Besides, next week is the beach.