Thursday, August 27, 2015

A Hermit, a Wild Child, and a Dog Walk Into the Woods

On this day...I was walking with my daughter and Buster down over the hill behind our home, through the beautiful wooded path that leads to the two small run-off ponds that pool on the ferny forest floor, and as I was taking in the normal calming scenery I realized something that many people might not understand about my seclusion. The Hermit's Nest is so much more than just the house! I get the whole damn forest! I think some people assume that because I struggle with depression and anxiety that I am wallowing and broken, hiding in the woods, melted into the couch with pillows over my head avoiding life. Don't get me wrong, that does happen on occasion, but a lot of the time people just suck and honestly I prefer trees to many humans. I'm not hiding, I am exposing myself. I just prefer to do it by myself. So, why wouldn't I be a hermit? Why wouldn't I want to spend the majority of my days enjoying this land with my favorite mini-person and best fur friend? It finally just made sense to me and I didn't feel guilty or wrong, but deliberate. Can you blame me? We are blessed enough to have an amazing little chunk of pretty to enjoy daily. I am blessed enough to have the luxury of staying home and raising my daughter and we live IN the woods. I am surrounded by trees and nature. The Divine Spirit is all around us just waiting to be observed.

As Skynard sang, "I ain't trying to put down no big city!" but I am not a "flatlander" or a "townie" and I am very grateful for that. It has made me who I am. I am a mountain girl, born on a mountain top, raised in the woods and grown on the hillside. I'm not scared that I'm going to be eaten by bears or get lost. I know that deer are not inclined to attack me. I mean, that's always a possibility, but don't ever let that keep you from going into the woods. 

We visited the ponds for the second or third time that day and then we went down another path to an area that Celie refers to as "our secret hideout" where I will sometimes sit cross-legged and let her and Buster explore the smells, sights and sounds while I commune with nature. This time there was a small token to be found, two feathers that were right in our spot. A gift! We collected them with gratitude, and then made our way back up to the house. It's wonderful to be able to simply step out of your back door and into a different world, one that centers you and brings you back to your Self. When either of us has become overstimulated we can easily take a walk "down over the hill" and recharge. Nature is definitely a depression hack.

Sometimes I question my unconventional parenting style, like the fact that my kid did not have any shoes on for this entire stroll. But it's hard to keep shoes on the girl, she loves to be barefoot and wiggle her toes and there is nothing wrong with that! At times, though, I doubt my judgements, like most mothers. I wonder if I'm being too permissive or irresponsible but then I remember that I was raised similarly and perhaps that's why I am drawn to nature for sanctuary and solace. Fuck it! She sprints across gravel, her feet are like mountain goat hooves---I'm almost convinced that she could walk across hot coals. When she gets cuts or splinters, I tend to them with black salve, like my Pap used to use on his cows. Afterall, wounds and filth are caused by what childhood is supposed to be all about, exploration and learning! 

I squatted in the woods growing up, I wiped with the leaves, I ran barefoot and was constantly covered in bruises, cuts and scratches. My ankles were perpetually torn up from the trip vine jaggers, burdocks were always stuck to my clothes, and I spent my days leaping over logs and sprinting through tall grasses, with the scent of pond mud and the sulfar creek in my hair. I was free-range! I think that my daughter is a good mix for a modern kid; she enjoys Minecraft and her tablet but she can also appreciate the way of the woods and get down like the wild thing that she is! Despite judgements, I think I'm doing just fine. 

I consider us incredibly lucky to live here. In drifting you will always find your own way and we have learned that there is more than meets the eye down over the hill. There are no sidewalks here, only paths. I am inspired by this place just as Thoreau was by Walden Pond; I'm a writer living in the woods, why wouldn't I be a hermit?

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