Much of the forest on
By the time I was 5 or 6 the rule was: just be home by dinner time. Not hard, as my stomach lead me home. So I roamed the woods, sometimes with my neighbor and friend Keith, but often alone. I am embarrassed, yet proud, to now see the big beech along the side of what was a trail and is now a road with HAANS crudely scrawled 3 feet from the base of the trunk. I got my first pocket knife on a trip to to
As I grew up my time by myself in the woods diminished. In part because we become more social as we get older and because Chapin State Forest became
So while once, the encounters with people on
More than one circumstance conspired to deprive me of my solitude, to a point where I could not remember being by myself in the woods anymore. I was always with someone else, or guiding a a hike, or encountering other people. I was never truly alone.
Saturday, I found myself in an odd situation. My friend Frank was on vacation and my friend Tom had to work. They have helped me with survey work for the past 3 years. So every walk through the remote woods has been with either Tom or Frank or both. This day provided an opportunity. I could either succumb to the fear of solitude I have not had for so long, or find the joy of it. I chose the latter.
My walk was a wonder. I chose a part of the Holden Arboretum that is 1200 acres of unbroken woods. Although I got a bit of a late start, the birds welcome me with an extended chorus. It is hard to believe they are singing this late in the morning in numbers I cannot fathom. It is as if I have arrived at dawn. The Wood Thrush, the Juncos, the Winter Wren, Hooded, Black-throated Green and Black-throated Blue Warblers.
I realized it is impossible to be truly alone in the woods. There are few places on Earth so teaming with life as a healthy the forest. There is life everywhere, and it is concentrated and diverse. From the bacteria in the soil to the insects, plants, trees, and birds, there is not a square centimeter in the forest that is lifeless. You will find life wherever you look. It is astonishing. So in the forest you never lack for company. If your intent and attitude are right you merge with the forest, become a part of it. It is not a foreign, or hostile place. It is home. In this state of mind you find both solitude and companionship.