Enter this wild wood
Stranger, if thou hast learned a truth which needs
No school of long experience, that the world
Is full of guilt and misery, and hast seen
Enough of all its sorrows, crimes, and cares,
To tire thee of it, enter this wild wood
And view the haunts of nature… — William Cullen Bryant
The poem from which these lines are taken describes so well the reasons I treasure our little wooded lot that adjoins the back yard of our York home. This is perhaps the first place I’ve ever lived where I loved the lot as much, or maybe even more, than the house itself. While this bit of land could never be called a forest, nor even a “wild wood,” it still holds the charms of which Bryant wrote so eloquently.
Our little patch of woods contains a small creek, part of our local protected wetlands that can never be cleared or developed regardless of who owns it. Of course, I wouldn’t want to clear it even if we could! In this little kingdom I have shared space with deer, rabbits, birds, turtles, lizards and squirrels (and probably a few reclusive snakes I’d rather not know about) who pass through or live nearby. I would never want to ruin the feeling of being miles away from everything, yet still right in my own back yard.
Do you have a favorite wooded spot — a bit of land on which you live, or one near your home, or a public park with lots of trees — that you visit regularly? If not, I highly recommend you discover one. Ideally, there would be at least one small clearing where you could sit and read, or picnic, or maybe even doze on a folding lounge chair. Or just walk quietly amid the sights and sounds of the forest, and note how many different ways nature can be heard when one stops to listen intently.
Such spots are beautiful all year round, but now, before the leaves start to fall and the weather is still warm enough to make the shade refreshing, I hope you will get away for a walk in the woods. As Bryant attests, it’s a balm for what ails you!