Into the Woods

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At that dark time of year when every cell in my body screams out hibernation, my husband and I ventured over the river . . . and stayed in the woods for Thanksgiving. Our daughter flew off to spend the holiday with relatives in more exotic climes, so we found ourselves suddenly on our own without family or friends, no dish to prepare for a lavish meal, no festive gathering to clean for or drive to.

Instead, we walked into the forest on a day that could have been mistaken for early spring and listened to the birds chatter, squirrels rustle and ancient trees still hum with the loss of their kin to a pioneer’s axe. The eccentric Scotsman who found this enchanted spot full of caves, underground springs and streams, bought the land not to plunder and clear, but to preserve.

What remains are some of the few remaining acres of virgin timber in the state and country, a landscape littered with the carcasses of dead giants, petrified beneath the gentle shade of their younger brethren, their memory enshrined in sacred roots. Dotted here and there you can still find a living elder, oaks with many limbs amputated, beeches tattooed in initials long forgotten, centuries documented by burls and knots and hollowed trunks.

And so it came to pass this year, while others gathered at the lodge to feast and play, we walked hallowed ground in the hush of our own kind of holiday, gratitude for the presence of these gentle giants singing in our hearts.