Tag Archives: woods

A Walk (or two) in the Woods

I’m a pretty independent sort. Not only can I do things by myself, a lot of times I prefer it. That said, this past week I went on not one but TWO hikes in the woods in the company of groups. Both outings had splendid weather tucked into a week of mostly rain. Each was enjoyable in its way and each had a very different “feel” about it. It’s funny how that goes. For better and worse I am constantly absorbing and responding to the environments I find myself in. I know also, by being in them I am affecting said environments, hopefully contributing.

Anyway I took this photo on the second hike. Looking at it – independent of knowing where it actually is – I just want to set out down that path and see where it goes. Maybe it’s the sunlight casting its welcome rays on the trees ahead. I feel calmer justĀ looking at this scene.

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I saw this growing on a tree stump in a small patch of woods near me, and thought it was beautiful, particularly the shades of green.

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Seasons are a’ changing, like it or not

On the night of the winter solstice, I joined a small group of people for a short walk in our local woods. These woods – which don’t cover vast acreage but occupy valuable property – have been much threatened over the years by the prospect of development. However, people in the community fought for a long time to keep them protected and left alone. They continue to be something of a lightning rod for local controversy, so it’s nice to just take a moment to enjoy them.

After sunset, our group headed into the woods down narrow paths. We stopped at one point and if they wanted to, people spoke or read nature-related passages. There was a man there I’d seen before, but did not personally know. I was struck by something he articulated about the seasonal changes, which I’ll paraphrase. He said when a new season begins, you resist it and want to stay in the old one. But some time passes and you adjust and start to appreciate the season you’re in. And about the time you’re acclimated and humming along, a new season emerges and the whole cycle starts over.

Yes,” I said.

What’s size got to do with it?

The world of a little girl is a scary one, whether she knows it or not. Too often young girls are (the ones) preyed on inside their homes and out. I am glad that, no matter how un-delightful my childhood was, I was for the most part, left physically unscathed. Given the odds of a girl being physically or sexually abused, that is saying something.

I was raised to believe the world was a dangerous place, but it was all very vague; shadow monsters, not much I could hang my hat on. Even so, no one taught me how to defend myself, physically or with my wits. The minimal advice my parents gave me, when I spoke of being bullied or otherwise having problems with other kids, had little to do with my life. (Oh geez, I wish I could remember who said – Margaret Atwood? – that children look little and unthreatening to adults but to other children, they are life-size. Or words to that effect.)

There was one time when I was in grade school that my mother took us aside and rather seriously said if we ever saw anyone watching us playing in our large back yard, we should come tell her. Much later I learned that a man had exposed himself to a female classmate in the woods behind our house, hence the obscure warning. Imagining that incident bothered me for years. It still does. Had I been the child victim, I would not have known what to do or how to react.

Not too surprisingly, big men scared me. It was their sheer size, the booming voices, the brash manner. That’s all it took. A tiny thing before adolescence, I shrank easily. I’m told I was frightened of the captain on a ferry boat ride we took as a family when I was probably 3 or 4. I don’t remember this at all. The uniform – there must have been a uniform – probably was a factor. (I’m not saying I was afraid of uniforms, just that a uniform likely added to the intimidation factor. Like fire men, police men, soldiers.)

Although there were myriad unpleasant incidents, I never was beat up by other kids. I do remember a particular time at the local swimming pool, a girl and her friend said they were going to beat me up when I left the pool. I was so scared. I didn’t even know what it meant. Thankfully, they didn’t follow through. In separate incidents, a boy punched me in the stomach once and another snipped off a piece of my hair, both inexplicably and with no context. A pack of older girls once dragged me around the school yard. (Aren’t children swell?)

My sister (closest in age) and I tussled occasionally, but nothing all that serious. We would have caught holy hell if we bruised or bloodied each other. And neither one of us knew squat about how to fight. (My sister would tell you we fought each other with wooden ping pong paddles but I will tell you that once and only once, we aimlessly swatted the things at each other, not even making bodily contact.) It would never have even occurred to me to pull someone’s hair (which apparently is a quite popular pastime for females of all ages).


 
When I was older, I observed retrospectively that most of the men I’d dated or had relationships with were typically just a bit larger than I was in size, i.e., not big men. However, that turned. I think it had something to do with me and the surety I felt within myself. I’d become a (fairly) decent judge of character and size alone wasn’t going to be an intimidation factor (consciously or not). As a grown woman, I had a relationship with a man who was 6’6″ and pushing 300 pounds. He had dark hair and a beard and struck a very imposing figure. (Naturally he rode a motorcycle too.) However, I never felt physically threatened by this man. Whatever my issues were with him (why I stopped seeing him), they were utterly unrelated to his size.

What’s very interesting to me is that the men who have physically threatened me or tried to or intimated they might, were smaller men, again men a bit larger than me (and one smaller). I can think of three specific people, none of which cut an imposing figure. I’m not sure what to make of that, but it’s given me something to think about over the years. It does seem there is little correlation between size and threat, which is not to say there aren’t lots of men who use their superior size to intimidate the women in their lives. Rather, my larger point is that there isn’t a direct cause and effect between a man’s physical size and what goes on in his psyche in terms of women.

Dream 4

I dreamt I was trying to accomplish a vague mission before the day’s end. I was running around in the outdoors, near a wooded area when I suddenly came upon a baby girl lying on the ground. She was black, dressed in bright pink, and very cute when she looked up at me and smiled. I knew I was supposed to do something about this child. I couldn’t exactly go off and leave her there, but my mission – however unclear – was pressing.

I started talking to the baby and she answered me in complete, adult sentences. Turns out, she wasn’t a real baby. Are you familiar with the doll babies sometimes used to scare teenagers into not getting pregnant? Where teens carry the “baby” around and look after it so they’ll get an inkling how much work and trouble an actual baby is? Well, this baby was like that except completely life-like (faked me out). Plus the talking, plus the baby argued with me. See, I said I had things to do but the baby girl told me all the stuff she needed, like NOW. I explained that once I accomplished my tasks/mission, we’d get to her concerns (fer cryin’ out loud, she wasn’t even a real baby). One of the things she told me was she had to have all these vitamins today. I cleverly, or at least it seemed that way in the dream, responded, “The day isn’t over yet” (as in we’ll get to your stupid vitamins soon enough). Baby didn’t think that was good enough because as I picked her up and started to quickly head back to finish my original mission, it became apparent she had radioed back to her controller – which I didn’t know existed – to rat me out! Thanks fake baby!

An unknown woman came walking out of a patch of woods behind me, and said, “You can’t run away Ma’am.” Clearly, nobody was okay with me finishing up my errands before dealing with the baby. I was game to proceed with my business AND take the baby, but not any more. I went to hand the turncoat baby back to the pushy woman as the dream ended.