All forests share a language. Linked by a network of branches, paths, waterways, birds, and wide-eyed travelers, the leaves whisper, the trees lean in to listen more closely, and our footprints carry the story a little bit farther.
An avid trail runner, I spend much of my time immersed in outdoor spaces, sometimes stretched across multiple days. There is a funny thing that happens when you’ve been travelling long enough; whether by car, train, or on foot. The spaces and the distance between them begin to melt together, and you begin to recognize similarities in the most disparate of places.
I find solace in the miles and minutes I spend on the Cottonwood Trail. How lucky am I to be able to walk out the door of my house and one stop sign later be enveloped in a pocket of woods boasting a rushing creek, a wetland preserve, a pine needle laden scrub forest and two very big hills? Each time I find myself there, I catch glimpses of its cousins (the bigger places, the vast wildernesses) within the familiarity of its visage. A glint of mica, an exposed root, blinding sunshine flooding through a web of leaves and branches. This local oasis has a bigness of its own, discoverable through its never-faltering ability to surprise.
In C.S. Lewis’ fantasy novel The Magician’s Nephew (a prequel to the other 6 books in his Chronicles of Narnia series) a young boy finds himself in a magic wood, filled with several pools, each leading to other worlds. On the trail, I often find myself seized with that same sense of possibility. This dreamlike wood pays homage to the stories we become a part of when we venture outside, and the magic places we have yet to find.