Special Woods

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Written by: Martin James Wood

If you like to hike, hunt, trap, fish or consider yourself a naturalist or maybe you just like the outdoors, then I’m sure you could answer this question… What is your special woods?

You know,,, the place you dream about in the middle of a hectic work day… It’s a place you may or may not be real familiar with, because it could be a fictitious place in your imagination…

You may go there often to take game, pull a whopper from its waters, or just unwind and walk the trails…

It might be that place you have visited with your father, brother or with that friend, who may or may not any longer be around…

Life’s circumstances may have caused you to only have been there once or twice in your lifetime…

Possibly it is a nostalgic place from your childhood and you swam in its cool waters or climbed of its branches…

Maybe it has changed or it’s no longer present in the way that you remember, and never again will you be able to see, touch, or smell its existence…

There are many places that take one’s breath away, and then there are those places, that just give us breath…

How about a place high up in the mountains, with deep defined valleys and ridges, with a view of nothing but forest for miles around,,, or how about, wide rusty canyons that stretch far as the eye can see with green shelves high above,,, or a place that has long flat low green valleys surrounded by far off snow capped mountains…

If you’re like me, maybe your special woods relate to you as the changing of the seasons. The seasons of time and weather;

…It is spring turkey season and I’m walking the woodline following a wide spread of rolling farm field. The grass is lush and green. The sun glistens along the woodline blotted with an assortment of greens. The path I’m walking is a brown ribbon like trail winding upward along the treeline. The air is fresh and thin. There are a pair of hawks soaring freely above in the endless blue sky. As I crest the edge of the field, I hear the sound of crows arguing somewhere in the woods and I sit down and take note of the ever familiar view of the ripening valley below. The warblers, chickadees, thrashers and wrens all seem to be quite present in the whole affair…

…It is summer and there is the hollow sound of the oars brushing against the side of the canoe. I hold the paddle to one side of the boat and steer a friend and myself into one of my favorite summer afternoons. We pull our oars out of the water and slightly drift as I watch the reflected trees from the shoreline in the placid water pass by. A fish splashes just up ahead as I quietly and gingerly drop the anchor. The serenity of the lake leaves not much to be heard, other than the steady wiz of our casting lines and the occasional, “I got one!”, after a tug or two on one of our rigs. But how the lake makes up for its lack of sound with its surrounding beauty. The sun shimmers across the lake and the evergreens seem to hold everything in its place along the shoreline. Above is a beautiful blue sky that extends far beyond the encompassing wooded hills. A crane standing on one leg close to shore decides to suddenly take flight and land in a nearby tree while the water beside me instantly ripples from a teasing fish…

…It is fall and I’m sitting on my haunches peering across a clearing of yellowed faded grasses with my shotgun across my knee. I can smell the fragrance of wild apples in the warm autumn air. Wild apples from the crab apple orchard across this secluded forgotten meadow. As the sun shines through the golden branches, all speckled in reds and yellows from the season’s remaining crop, I can see the evidence of deer from the defined paths through the high grass that go to and fro this little island of bounty. I should remember this place during deer season for the scrapes and rubs are many, but it often seems I find myself remembering it during the warm leisure autumn of turkey and squirrel…

…It is early winter and I find myself in the hardwoods walking snow covered ridges and old logging roads, or I’m walking along the edges of fields or following creekbottoms littered with hemlocks usually in my quest for deer. Later in winter, it’s the brambles and the brush that pull at my hound’s and my hearts. Red brush, thorns and fallen trees, places that you don’t think about walking into any other time of year and of course the fence rows, woodlines and the long forgotten about homestead remnants. The dog and I do have our favorite places but like the early explorers, we also like to discover and conquer new territory…

These woods are very special. They leave everlasting impressions in our hearts like mountain streams cutting deep and finding their way through wooded hollows. Most definitely and undeniably, these are “special woods”…

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© 2016, The Wood’s Edge Publications/Martin James Wood. All rights reserved.

About Martin James Wood

Nature enthusiast Martin James Wood is an outdoor writer and blogger for The Wood's Edge. He has spent his life among the forests and woods, admiring nature with a camera and pen. His writing, artistry, and outdoor photography celebrate nature’s simplicity and beauty. A Pennsylvania native, Martin James is a loving father and husband, and a friend to our nation’s forests who believes in protecting and preserving our wild lands.

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