I tied my little one to my back, as I have done so many times before, though now his legs dangled lower, and his weight sat heavier, and I set off. We walked down our crumbled street, turned a few corners, and quickly reached our entry point, to our wooded playground, our hidden treasure, our sanctuary. I chose the low path, in part because my tired body didn’t much want to climb the hill, and in part to search for a hidden treasure within the walls of this place. Within a few paces, my eyes turned toward the sky and my nose sniffing lightly for the trail of a scent, I found them. Grapes. Black, round, seedy, sweet, concord grapes. I gathered the few that I could reach into my hands, and continued down the path.
E caught on to what I was doing, and started to kick his heels into my sides. He reached his little arm around my shoulder and held out an open hand. He wanted some of my treasure. I peeled off the thick dark skin, and handed him the white fleshy inside. He popped it into his mouth and grinned. We walked further, all eyes turned towards the branches, seeking out the distinctive broad-leafed vine, and its black clusters of goodness. We spotted more than we could ever eat, high up in the branches, I picked what I could, jumping up lightly to bring down a bunch. It was the end of a long day. The last heat of summer clung to our bodies, and we clung to each other.
Soon we came to the end of the grape tunnel. Continuing on, I held our stash safely in my palm. The trees glowed an effervescent green in the last golden light of day. My little one and I had walked this path many times together. I had walked this path for years before he came to be. The peace of this place is that the path is always there. The wonder of it is that it does what all things in nature do, it constantly changes.
At this moment on a late summer evening, this path, my son and I, each held our thoughts in quiet contemplation. I pointed out the soft breeze, the dry trickle of brook indicating our long, hot summer, and the grapes, ripened and ready to eat. In the spring we had walked this path together collecting fiddle heads, the new yet to unspiral baby ferns make a tasty green snack perfect for end of winter cleansing. My baby was smaller then, and his legs didn’t yet yearn to be free and walking.
As I held my thoughts on seasons, abundant wild edibles, and growing babies, we came to a sign post that perfectly captured the essence of all that I was feeling.
The tree had fallen years before. I remember when it’s roots still hung like outstretched arms, wanting for the warm embrace of deep earth. Now those roots were hardly visible, grass, and other greenery shrouded the open wound, collecting the fallen giant back into itself. This is what we all must go through, this what we all become. In my heart, I feel peace with that. Something about the sight of that tree reminds me that this is natures intention, and we must honor it.
We continued on, enjoying the sights and sounds of the forest. We came across wild turkeys, a stone wall, a grazing bumble bee. We bounced, and trotted, looked and laughed. I imagined our walk at this time next year. A little boy not only steady on his legs, but running. A mama with ever watchful eyes, and ever-growing memories. This place, is our place. This forest, our escape into a world where things are as they are meant to be. Ever evolving, growing, blooming, dying, wintering, weathering, and starting again. Ever changing, as all things do, inviting us to gracefully do the same.