I have been too long gone from the woods. The trees and flowers and weeds and birds and bugs haven’t missed me, but I have missed them. The musty smell of damp earth, the long forgotten scents of weed and flower, the rippling mummer of the spring moving to the river. The heat rising in my own body through work it has not done in such a long time, the breeze cooling me in turn.

Walking along dappled trails, light and dark alternating in moving patterns, emerging into a clearing in the woods with the sun suddenly toasting my skin. Hot, with humidity drawn from the grasses making the air heavier and richer, following the trail until it falls again into shadow. The sudden cool of that shade.

A bench ahead; a rest. Then hear the birds. A robin, a cardinal, a red-wing blackbird trills off in the grassy clearing. A wren sings out. There are other songs, once known, but now a mystery. A mosquito flies near my ear. Not a welcome sound, but a part of life and nature. I rise, walk a little further and a furtive movement catches the corner of my eye. A snake, never expecting to be disturbed, slinks off and disappears, I as much surprised to find it as it was to find me.

Another person appears, walking in the opposite direction. A warm greeting, though we do not know each other, only that we are kindred spirits in the moment, in a common pursuit, a shared experience. No politics, no judgment, no expectations. Just two people passing each other in the peace of the moment.

I tire. I have not walked this far in quite some time. I wonder why, but already know it is because I had lost the sense of being in the world. I pulled the limits of my life ever closer. A self-imposed seclusion. Having forgotten the ability of nature to heal, I determined that healing was not possible. Here, my eyes have been reopened.

The trail ends. Though weary, I feel more alive. I sit in my car with the windows wide open with the slight breeze cooling me. I take a deep drink of water and watch the other people who are out in the day, enjoying their own experiences of nature, escaping the confines of their daily lives.

Reacquainted with the woods, I know I will, that I must, return.