I used to walk around “the woods” near my house. There, in the scrub, pines and hardwoods behind the 7-11, I could discover, adventure out, and explore. Those were the junior grounds, and as I got older, my friends and I would explore the woods on Buffalo Bayou, Rummel Crrek and other “wilderness” areas within a mile of the house. One of those areas is now a bird sanctuary next to a church, one is a county park with trails and easy access along a scenic part of Buffalo Bayou, and a couple of the spots are now covered by buildings and parking lots. But in those early experiences, a voice appeared in my mind calling me to the woods.
Junior high brought me an experience in East Texas near Martin Dies and on Houston County Lake with a friend, his family and his sister’s friend. High school brought me Thoreau and Walden, college brought me Emerson. Adulthood’s desire to hold onto the thought-filled process of being “in the woods” led me to Thoreau’s essay titled Walking where he described the beauty and healing of sauntering in nature. Experiences with my family provided essential outdoor connections that I never had with my family when growing up. For a spell, we lived in the Piney Woods in Huntsville, Texas and then in Albuquerque, New Mexico, all providing me times in the woods. For the past decade, however, I have not camped once. But the voice borne in childhood has whispered patiently for five decades.
If things continue on their current pace, this holiday season I will be sauntering around on a small parcel of land with scrub, pines and hardwoods where my family and I can discover, adventure out and explore. It reminds me of where I walked as a kid, where I discovered in junior high, where I envisioned when reading in high school, and connects me to places where I have great memories as an adult. I think of it as a place of hunting and gathering—gathering the family together.
Listen to life throughout your life, particularly to the voices that come emanate from your soul as they talk to your heart.