Watching Christopher Robin with my youngest child, David, rendered me rather nostalgic and I took a rather blissful walk down my own memory lane to enter a 100 Acre Wood of my Own.
I grew up in the middle of pretty much no where. There were 80 acres of no where. At least – it was no where when I was growing up. Now, of course, towns have expanded their girth and inflated to include grocery stores, liquor stores, and paved roads. But – when I was growing up – there were no real conveniences in our proximity. The odd car would venture down our dirt road, but it would not pass without commentary.
“Who is that?” my Dad may inquire.
“Oh, that is Dr. Shannon”, or “Looks like the Ivys may have a new car”, my Mom would add.
No car went unnoticed. Several “odd” ones may turn around in our driveway when they noted the street was not really the one they had anticipated it to be – it was the wrong way on a long dirt road. And in winter, the road was not maintained. Travelling too far would lead to a mound of snow and blowing drifts. Followed by nothing, leading to no where.
Nothing and nowhere was a good place to be for me as a child. It is primarily this line in Christopher Robin which triggered my own memory: “Doing nothing can lead to a lot of something”. Or something like that. I had no siblings at home to play with, nor were there neighbours and so my time was spend with my parents, my horses, or Mother Nature. She (Mother Nature) would dictate my activities. When it was cold and icy, I would skate right on the road which had iced over. The ice was seldom challenged by any machine applying salt or sand. Remember, the road was a dead end? I would throw on my skates – not knowing how far I would go – not knowing what rocks would suddenly pop out in front of me – not knowing when I would return. I just went. In summer, I would collect seeds and pretend I was a chef. The seeds, I would collect in a bowl and stir the mixture until it looked “divine”. Of course – they were inedible but that didn’t really matter. Doing dishes was easy – the mixtures would be tossed out of the bowl and float down to the bare dirt which covered the forest floor. Normally – the kitchen “du jour” was in my tree-house deep in the woods by the cabin. A lot of life happened in that tree-house. It was a safe place to be – unless you fell out of it which did happen on occasion.
Mother Nature kept me busy. And when I think to my childhood, I am flooded with memories of the woods where she lived. They were ethereal. On days, the sun would shine through the trees to the saplings below as though bathing them in a bath of gold. These places – of which I knew almost every one of them – were satellites of Heaven. And I knew if I went to one of them and sat very still – I would be able to visit with my Grandpa who had passed away when I was nine. Our visits were very quiet. And they were very secret. I didn’t expect that anyone would understand or experience my encounter of the divine the same way. Funny how I still remember in vivid detail just exactly what those “spots” looked like. They seemed to be unchanging. I think I would still be able to find them even today. The greens, the golds, the sun. They still wrap themselves around my thoughts today and comfort me. They shield me from life’s storms and offer me comfort when I am alone. This memory is one that I cherish the most – just Grandpa, Mother Nature and me.
I am still mesmerized by the forest, even today. To walk Jazz, my dog, in the woods is much like taking a bath after a long, hard day of work. I will simply stand in the middle of the forest and breathe. Every breath is full of purpose. Every inhale cleanses my soul. They give me the gift of life and, in turn, I offer them my breath. It is symbiotic when I am there – doing nothing but breathing. And dreaming. And remembering the feeling of being a child once again. There is an earthy smell emanating from the ground. The cool breeze touches my cheeks. My memories dance in my mind and I know that if I let them free – they will take me to a time when life was simple and easy. At least – it was for me. At least – that’s what I thought. There was an innocence to my childhood that is almost illusive to me today. I think if I concentrate on it too much it will be tainted by the judgement life has given me as a adult. If only my judgement could be lifted, my childhood would be set free to join my adult self and let me play in the wonder I once experienced. If I am still and quiet for long enough – I can remember the joy, the play, the security I enjoyed. The trees, the song of the wind, and the warmth of the sun walk me down my more enjoyable childhood story.
It is in the woods where I cast of the layers of troubles I carry with me daily. I am relieved of the weight of routine, bill-paying, worry, decisions… challenges. I am liberated from the what-ifs of cancer, travel, work… struggle. It is in the woods where nothing leads to something. And something can lead to many things.
So – thank you Christopher Robin – once again, for reminding me of the joy I can still find in the childhood I had in my own 100 Acre Wood.