Everything around me was moist and green and fertile. I had forgotten what the forest floor looked like with its black black earth that crumbled beneath my hands as I wandered off trail to forage for oak moss. It had been far too long. I remember camping every year at least twice a year up until I was married. But here was the forest patient, as ever, with a certain lack of people noises that usually haunt my everyday existence. Birds sang * sometimes squawked*, the creek babbled, the bees hummed, beetles popped and clicked, and the breeze made a chorus of the leaves in the canopy above. The way the light filtered down upon me in dapples and streams made a dancing mosaic of the mosses and ferns on the floor and revealed patches of wild raspberries. It horrified my little man as I began to pick them off the canes and pop them into my mouth: Mom! that's not food! His Oma asked him where he thought raspberries should come from and he replied with a matter-of-factly from the store.
He needs more woods. He needs more 8000 feet elevation up in the clouds, play in the water, stomp off the trail with mama Mount Lemon. He refused to go up one of the hills with me because his Aunt told him the bears will eat him, but he plucked up the courage to go and skim the edge of the creek with me earlier in the afternoon. . . not sure what the hill up had to do with bears, but oh well. Miss B. went on a four mile hike with her Opa, Aunt and Cousin, got a lesson on how to use a compass and to wear better shoes hiking. It's been what feels like a thousand years since I was in a forest that felt remotely familiar and home like. I have been in Flagstaff woods and it's not bad, but it's not like the woods I grew up investigating with sticky pine resin covered fingers. The earth is still compact and baked to a hard clay tile forest floor. . . Prescott is better in that area of feeling familiar, but Mount Lemon just sang with a familiar, wet, black voice.
It felt good to scramble up the side of the mountain off the path and to a place hidden by fallen trees and sprawling patches of ferns and moss to leave an offering to the spirits there where the eyes of man can't pry to see. I whispered my secret words to the secret folk and without looking back used my goat feet to shimmy back down to the trail. That which I had gone to fetch was found. I had secretly hoped to spy some mistletoe to harvest, but the only mistletoe I spied lay on the ground dying with it's tree long gone. Only broken branches remained.
I will have to return to Mount Lemon often with children in tow to get them to earn their goat feet and mad wild berry picking skills up in a place where clouds make islands of mountains. I feel like I am finally waking up again after being shut down for so long. I didn't know I had been shut down until I started to wake.