Monday, May 18, 2015

Into the woods

I feel like I don't know anything so I went to the woods. I grew up with two nature enthusiast parents. My mom skinned roadkill, taught me all about Michigan wildlife-plants and animals, my dad showed me constellations, hiking, and would take me fishing. Our entire summers were spent outside, swimming in one of the great lakes, or camping. It was fun and enriching but still, I remember wanting to be a normal girl who went to malls, was asked on dates, and went to parties. I have never been good at friendships. I am incredibly naive and fragile. I think I can play at normal sometimes, until people get to know me and everyone tells me I'm so weird. I like who I am, but I wish other people understood me too. I went to the woods to be surrounded by the only things I really know.

I was engulfed in the sweet smell of wild honeysuckle and then a few minutes later it was gone. I saw giant skunk cabbage in the balmy swampy area and mayapples with small white flowers hiding under their umbrella-like leaves. Dainty white trillium flowers speckled through out the forest floor and matted down brush make a narrow trail where deer must have meandered through. I saw sensitive fern with some coy poison ivy hiding nearby. I quizzed myself on what I could remember. Facts and memories flood back with the sights, sounds, and smells of the lake trail.

I laughed out loud at being startled by the ruckus caused by one tiny chipmunk hopping down a hill of leaves. It's funny how much noise a tiny animal can make, yet a deer can quietly sneak up without ever being noticed. I heard a redwinged blackbird, I saw a garter snake sunning itself, I saw little schools of bluegill darting around by the dock. I saw staghorn sumac. I saw pointed stumps and logs a beaver had downed. I know you can eat the pollen stems of the cattails, I know that plants in the mint family have square stems, I know the sound of a ruffed grouse drumming on a hollow fallen log. I know that sometimes a forest needs fire. I know that everything even the smallest things like ants are important. I know that butterflies can drink blood. I know that dragonflies spend most of their lives as nymphs in the water. I know that poison ivy's oil can linger on your clothes, I know that no one questions if Virginia creeper just needs support or is suffocating the tree it climbs. I know so much about those woods. When I drove back to the city, I remembered I knew nothing here. No one knows me and no one cares what I know. I love my city and the people, I like to exist here, but I don't know how to fit. When I need to remember myself I will always go back to the woods.

garter snake


staghorn sumac

sensitive fern and skunk cabbage

weird bowl like fungi I've never seen before

an aging pink trillium


  1. Thats so awesome that you went on a trip by yourself to rediscover you. I need to take a page from your book and travel somewhere by myself. I now need to remember all the plants you've posted and I still remember all the plants you pointed out here. I even tried to propagate a horsetail but no success.

    Love you and miss you lots