Walking in the Woods With My Brother

It was early August and we were covered to wrists and ankles when we walked out the sliding back door, leaving cool and dry air conditioning. We were immediately enveloped in the blanket of air that clings to the body and soaks up your clothes. It was the heaviness that comes right before a storm.

The path to the back gate was difficult to find, heavily laden with leaves, ivy, and thorn bushes penetrating the mom-made passageway to the secret world of our childhood. The wood of the gate was mossy and worn, like cardboard when it’s wet; it no longer felt sturdy and durable. With four hands, we forced the gate open over mounds of dirt and twigs put there purposefully to stop the once young and wild puppy from fleeing the backyard and entering the woodsy abyss.

Just beyond the gate was a mound of earth standing ten feet wide and five feet high. What we once so reverently referred to as the “Christmas tree graveyard,” where bits of pine peaked out of old dirty brown dead leaves. Past this mound lay overgrown tundra of green as far as the eyes could see. What had been so clear and easy to trek through as a kid now seemed like an impossible feat, but we were determined.

We wandered our way through thorn bushes, around sinkholes, over fallen logs, and we made it to the clearing. There is a farm that is behind my house, behind the mess of the woods, secluded and alone. It is the only farmland left in our little suburb. As a kid, this was a whole new world. A feeling of danger at every turn, of coming out of the thickness of the woods behind us and exposing ourselves to the elements openly. We were afraid, but we pretended to be brave. This day, however, we gazed across the land, and it was just another field. It was not the new world once imagined, but it took us to places we held so dear in our memories.

We continued on.

Up steep slippery hills we trekked. The same hills that we had once glided down on sleds before meeting our fates at the bottom, becoming one with trees as the bruises formed on our bodies. We didn’t care. Life was dangerous and exciting, a literal twist at every turn.

We reached where the woods and the main road collide, a few blocks from my house. Through the lens of our young eyes, this was the breach between the unknown world and civilization. Reaching this was reaching the other side, the long haul. It was the feeling of mobility.

We stood on the edge of the last hill, the thick green trees ahead of us almost covered the cars passing by like rain on a windshield; we could only see patches of life.

“Maybe some things are better left for memory.”

 

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