Whose woods are these, I think I know
I finally made it back out to Wilderstead yesterday. It has been two months since I've had time to go. I didn't really feel like I had the time to spare this week, either, but I decided that I really, really needed to get over there.
It was a beautiful winter day that felt as if it were on the edge of spring. I wandered across the creek, which was full of water. All the springs were overflowing. This shot was taken from the log bridge looking upstream at the bathing pool.
I was nursing a bittersweet feeling about many things, not least how little progress I seem to be making on my house and how when I get over to Wilderstead, my time is taken up with chores rather than sharing it with the people I love. Still, it felt good to be in the woods again. It was so quiet, you could hear the water in the creek chuckling over the rocks from the cabin.
I built a fire in the stove to knock the chill off the cabin. Made some supper and read a book. When it got too dark to read, I switched on my computer and by the light of the screen typed up my sermon notes for Sunday. Then I went to bed early. This morning, I stayed in the sack until I was completely slept out. Looking at the clock on the table downstairs, I noted that I had slept for eleven hours.
Felt immensely better this morning. My bittersweet feelings had been replaced by hopefulness. Instead of thinking to myself how few years I might have left in which to enjoy my holler, I began to focus on what these next few years will bring. Let's say I have around fifteen years of sufficient health and hardiness left to still enjoy camping and hiking and so on. Compared to my fifty-some years of Scouting experience, that's not much, and it will fly by. But to my two grandcubs, the next fifteen years will go by very slowly, filled to the brim with all kinds of important thoughts and feelings and experiences. When I'm 78, fifteen years from now, James will turn 19 and Daniel will be 21.
So soon, I'll get to see them out the holler more. Their mother might bring them out to do school in the woods. And very soon, Daniel, at least, will be old enough to start trying his wings on overnight or weekend stays without Mom or Dad. I can see them helping me build my house, then helping me clear out the scrubby areas to develop the woods into a more park-like place. I see them building their play forts, scrabbling in the creek, roaming the hills. I see us building fires, camping out, learning to listen to the night sounds, sharing important moments together.
I have spent over forty years teaching and leading other people's kids. And I was too busy (and really, too immature) to really give my own children what I should have when they were young. But these two: they will get all I have to give them. When someone asked Teddy Roosevelt why he was planning an expedition to the Amazon in his retirement, he replied that it was his last chance to be a boy. Thinking of all the things I want to share with Daniel and James makes me as excited as a boy again. I want to do everything all over again, in the best of company.