You walk into a crowded room filled with strangers. Some strange, magnetic pull attracts you to others "like you." Your sense of style is the same, your level of intelligence, sense of humor all are a "match." There is a common ground that might be hard to put your finger on, but it exists just the same. You have a kinship in an unknown brotherhood and conversation flows easily.
You can talk with others, but not on the same level that you can with these people who are cut from the same cloth as you.
I thought of this today because I am this way with the trees, leaves, moss, branches and deer trails. I don't know why, but we talk the same language. I can only guess it is because I was a lonely kid, raised in the woods and I spent a lot of time climbing trees (only later did I become afraid of heights) or lying with one cheek on the earth as I observed ants carrying burdens back to their nests.
Like all of us, I have driven or walked past many homes and impressive examples of architecture, yet I am more apt to remember leaves dancing outside a window on delicate branches; Aspen leaves, coin-like, fluttering; pines almost imperceptibly swaying in the wind. I have forgotten street names and models of cars and brick facades, but the black-speckled, snowy bark of birches and the gooey sap from a climbing tree seen 45 years ago remains strong in my memory.
Today, I felt so weak and shaky but I'd promised our little dog a walk in the woods for two days and felt my word was starting to lose its meaning for him, so I snapped on the leash and we took the little loop of a deer trail across the road from our house. My toes brushed aside small rocks occasionally as I walked, clearing the path a bit for any future sojourns.
After a couple of trips this way, I am familiar with this hardly-seen trail and my instincts guided me as to which turn to take, just as they have done for decades when I traveled horseback. These little paths are covered with leaves and not that heavily used and thus, they are easy to veer away from, but some little nuance of branch, log, bush reminded my heart that here, I should turn right, there I should head west.
At the top of the little hill on the way home, I was winded and encouraged Quincy to join me sitting on the ground behind a big rock and at the base of a Ponderosa. No bed is ever so sweet as one of pine needles. I leaned against the trunk of the majestic tree and gazed through the forest. The highway traffic noise seemed intrusive and loud.
My first thought was that this would be the one reason I'd move, to get away from such drone of tires and pavement. Then, I think, "If these trees can thrive with this noise, so can I. Who am I to deserve better than what they have?"
The forest is humbling and bares my soul. And it is all good.
After twenty minutes, I knew I needed to get up and continue on home. But I didn't want to. Nothing profound was happening, but still, it was just pretty cool to be there.
My dog was ready to go; he'd had enough of this introspection.
And I recited an old favorite of mine by Robert Frost as I trudged with painful feet toward home:
Whose woods these are, I do not know
His house is in the village, though.
He will not see me stopping here
To watch his woods fill up with snow.
My little horse must think it queer
To stop without a farmhouse near
Between the woods and frozen lake
The darkest evening of the year.
He gives his harness bells a shake
To ask if there is some mistake
The only other sound's the sweep
Of easy wind and downy flake.
The woods are lovely, dark and deep
But I have promises to keep
And miles to go before I sleep
And miles to go before I sleep.