A few years ago I wrote a story inspired by John Haines titled “A Walk in the Woods With John Haines”. As his words and thoughts continue to provide guidance over the years, I return to this piece and update the images and feelings to reflect the experiences that have defined me.
I follow the packed trail others before me have taken. Winding through pine, poplar, and birch, it hugs the rocky shoreline. Up and down over boulders and outcroppings, the trial heads deep into the woods before I stop. An abandoned building overlooks the lake. Trees tower over the skewed roof and poke through glassless windows. Floorboards long ago rotted and disappeared, leaving nothing to prevent the forest from overtaking the cabin on the woods.
I continue north along the same trail which dips into a small frozen valley. In warmer months, a creek would fill this space and empty into Lake Superior. Now it is ice beneath 3 feet of snow. Trees bow in half ellipticals from each side and I pass beneath, careful not to break tree limbs, catch my backpack, or otherwise disturb what is here, and continue up the other side.
With empty and open mind I hear the voiceless tree and gently place my hand on its trunk. Eyes closed. When opened I see the light drawn from before this projections and boundaries existed. I see the nothing that gave birth.
Fall is the perfect time of year for building trails through the woods. Most tree leaves have fallen, the intense underbrush of summer, including small trees, weeds, and tall grasses, have wilted. The trail emerges and you can more easily find where you left off the previous fall. Passing by birch, pine, oak, and maple this is nature in all its forms. From the deer runs zig-zagging everywhere, to the seasonal creek that is now dry, to the raven flying so close you can hear the wings flapping, this makes everything else worthwhile.
In preparation for winter and snowshoeing, I spent the past two weekends installing new trail markers, making sure existing can be seen clearly, and cleaning fallen trees and other debris. Now is also the time to scope out where the next spur trail will be installed.
Deep into the northern woods, beneath the blue sky, near full moon, and lush pine trees, balance is finally being restored. After an Alaskan Amber, Joline begins to emerge and I finally continue the story that I have been working on for over 15-years. This current work will provide more of a background story for Joline, and who she is in a more basic, and pure state of mind.