Thursday, August 18, 2011

Little House In The Big Woods- Chapter Two

How to live intentionally and make decisions in a conscious way. These are the thoughts that run through my mind as I walk through the woods on Menna and Jem's property. Do you see, Gentle Reader, how just two days in the woods has made me all wise and Thoreau-like? Actually, this WAS one of the primary motivations for this sabbatical but on this day I'm just trying to get my confidence back. Yesterday I lost years off my life which I'm going to blame on a heightened predator/prey response honed by years of horror movie and mainstream media watching.

The plan was for me to get a good hike in on the 100 acres of woodland property while Jacob and Vaughn hung out at the house and then we'd all go for a drive into town about an hour later. Jacob is still pretty sick so they wanted to lay low and play games. As I set off on my meditative quest, I passed a car on the road just before turning onto the drive for Menna and Jem's new property. A man was driving the car and we exchanged glances but there were no smiles or friendly waves. I didn't give it another thought until I was about a mile up the driveway, just past the point where the road narrows to such a degree that it truly becomes a path in the woods. Menna and Jem's house is the only property off this gravel road and so there is no reason for any other car to be on the road. In fact, there are hardly any cars on the main road here because most of the properties are only sporadically occupied but as I trekked along I suddenly became aware that a car WAS slowly driving along the path through the bushes in my direction. There could have been many rational explanations for why a car would be on the road but in that split second there was only one plausible explanation to me - that man from the road had come back to hunt me down and kill me. Why else would someone be driving through the brush? With my heart racing I jumped off the path and crouched down low in the bushes and waited. The car stopped and I wondered if the driver was going to get out. I have no idea why my thought pattern went this way. I guess being in the middle of the woods in a foreign country with no one around plays tricks on your mind (I had only just stopped thinking that I might encounter aggressive wild pigs).

I waited for several minutes until finally the car backed down the road and after several more minutes, I quietly crept out of my spot. The whole way back through the woods I walked as quietly as I could while clutching a decent sized rock. When I got back to the house Jacob said, "How was the walk? We wanted to go to town early so we went looking for you but couldn't find you" and I immediately burst into tears.

So today's walk was an exercise in regaining a little sanity and touch with the real world. On the way back to the house a couple of the sheep were making a terrible racket so I went down the hill to make sure they were okay since keeping these guys alive is really my only job right now. It turned out that a couple of them had become entangled in the blackberry bushes and were bleating helplessly. However, as I approached them, their fear of me outweighed their entanglement and they pushed themselves free. After they got their wits about them it occurred to them that maybe I had come not to kill them but rather, to bring them kibble and they swarmed me expectantly.

How many times in life
Are we trapped
Only to find we have the ability
To free ourselves

I'm just kidding - I haven't gone THAT Thoreau (but how awesome would a series of Choose Your Own Adventure philosophy books be?!).

To end on a reasonable note: Menna and Jem told us that on very warm days, at night it is not uncommon to open the door and find three fat toads that come to hang out on the still-warm stone steps out front. All three of them have been named Trevor after Nevile's toad in Harry Potter. I've looked for these guys every night and last night one of them finally appeared (sadly, there is a smushed toad in the road that might be one of the original trio). They remind me of the big toads I used to see growing up and never see in Oregon. Tonight I'm going to try and get a picture of one for this blog post but there was a thunderstorm last night so the step might not be warm enough by the evening.

The attached picture will be from my forthcoming book: Creative Breadmaking- Baking When You Don't Have Measuring Spoons or Any Idea What the Oven Temperature Is.

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