My Forest


untitled, 36×52″, 1997, m/m


Today, on my roll around downtown Santa Fe I smelled good dirt.

The kind that a dangerously deep claret-colored wine makes me think of.

When I was a kid we lived on the edge of a forest complete with burbling stream with yellow buttercups lining the edges.

There was a whole ‘north-of-Detroit-suburban-emptiness’ on one side of the threshold.

On the other was my world with tangle vines, birdsong, squirrels rummaging and a small dam-cum-waterfall which always needed cleaning.

I had a lot of secret places as a kid and this was the very best one.

My younger sister once took my life-size doll (4′) down to this very river and drowned her.

The message was probably clear but the reality catapulted me farther into the forest where I could be free and safe.

I made forts out of detritus.

Really great forts.

I stayed hidden from doll-killers and manicured lawns.

I sang to myself as I cleaned the dam and stood with my hands on my hips in utter satisfaction over the great job I did.

Big and quick Northern Pike frequented those brackish waters.

I worried about them a lot because they seemed stuck in the pooling the river made before the dam.

I liked the feeling of worrying about fish. They didn’t need this kind of help at all but I did it anyway.

My adolescence was whittled in bits and pieces by poison ivy, awe and mysterious occurrences

And I emerged intimate with the impossible richness of deep forest and earth.

I also learned to love my own company which continues to serve me well.

I am quite sure my secret spot has been finessed into suburban sprawl and kids are hanging there now with their smart phones.

The intelligence I took from that forest and swamp informed my career as an artist and now as a writer but most importantly it taught me to listen patiently and well which is the best take-away of all.


4 Responses to “My Forest”

  1. Jen on June 26th, 2014

    Oh, dear, I had conveniently completely forgotten about that murder. Now that I’m watching Orange is the New Black, I wonder if I was an early adopter of the nice WASP unleashing the devil within! I am very very sorry I did that to you. Also for making fun of blueberries in the salad, which I now think is divine.

    To personal growth 🙂

  2. Barbara on June 27th, 2014

    I love your thoughts and words.
    Barbara x

  3. willow1945 on June 27th, 2014

    A beautiful expression of how rich and meaningful nature can be in our lives. I often feel that nature conspires to make me happy–just when I’m feeling low sending a robin to sing for me or a lovely cloud formation or a gentle, cheering whisper from a sycamore. I found your blog through Rancho de Chihuahua, as I have two Chis myself, little lights of my life. I hope all will be well with Livvy.

  4. Irene on June 27th, 2014

    Girl Scout camp taught me so much about the woods, nature, beauty, etc. There were lessons in coping and resilience for this skinny kid who hiked into the woods with a wicker packbasket filled with glass milk bottles for a sleepout. I also learned to clean latrines at age 8!

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