My grandmother taught us to honor the woods, to enter its wonders with respect. She told us to never intrude or cause any harm, saying we were Mother Nature’s guests and to mind our manners. One afternoon the three of us were hiking and came to an ancient black walnut tree. My grandmother stopped and patted its rough bark. “A powerful healing force lives deep within these woods. Whenever you children are hurting or can’t make sense of things, just come out here and spend some time with the trees. Give their trunks a good strong pat. When you go home, you’ll feel better.”
I pressed my small hand against the tree, looked up at the sunlight filtering through the leaves, and absolutely believed her.
I believe her still.
And tonight, as I gazed into the dense woods, I took in a slow breath and gratefully accepted whatever offering might come my way. I thought about that old saying, how we can never go home again. But I think it’s more like a piece of us stays behind when we leave – a piece we can never reclaim, one that awaits our next visit and demands that we remember.
Caramoor, Katonah, NY