Into The Woods

Sometimes it just seems like everything inside the house is buzzing. The electricity hums and the phone rings. The inbox has work waiting for me and the machines stand in their place, existing to help me clean, to help me cook. And yet, I want to be rid of them. Go away with your convenience because it’s inconveniencing me. The closest I can sometimes get to walking away from the intangible but very real realities of life is outside. So we go into the woods. We walk, we breathe, we pick up the pace. We admire the trees, we search for mushrooms, we seek out the solace in the sky. The dogs run ahead, the toddler trails behind, and once in a while, I spin in circles until I’m dizzy just because I can.


It’s when I feel most lost that she seems to see me most. Or maybe it’s that when I feel most lost, that’s when I notice her noticing me. Is that our shared genes? Is that our shared soul-stuff? Is that my lineage staring back at me, tapping into me, telling me in her toddler lingo that it’s all gonna be ok? I’ll see her see me and pause. And then: “Mommy, dance!” and she starts to wiggle, imploring me to join her. And of course I will, of course I must, because I, at least in part, I taught her how to do that wiggly dance. We wiggle.


This is our forest. These are the paths my husband walked as a boy. He tells me stories of individual trees as he passes them by.


There’s this curvy fat tree with a seat of a hump in his parents’ yard. “It was so tall, we thought we could climb to heaven,” he tells me. He and his five siblings, that is. We now watch our kiddo sitting on that hump and scaling the bark toward the sky. His depression-era father sat on the same tree before scurrying down to the road below for sugar rations. Nowadays, we seem to have no ability to ration our sugar. It’s funny how things change, but also how things never change.


I looked at this purple flower before I took its photo and I noticed its many missing petals. I was a day late but maybe not a dollar short because look at how stupid beautiful this on-its-way-out thing still is. Shriveled, but vibrant. Losing its edge, but still innately edgy. Distanced from traditional beauty, but timelessly beautiful nonetheless because real beauty cannot be touched. (But man, is there money to be made in trying to touch it, in trying to mess with one’s perception of it.) Own it. Disown it. Say whatever you want about it, but this kind of beauty will exist no matter your recognition. Probably best to just bow before it and acknowledge it, “I see you. I see you standing tall, decidedly differently than the rest. I see that that makes you especially extraordinary.” I see you and you are so beautiful.

These are just little things, but the little things are sometimes the only things that can position me well enough to face the big things. When I shake that buzz out of my head, my slate is cleaner, my grass is greener, and I might just adjust back into the whole damn thing of regular plugged-in life.


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Elizabeth Seward is a writer and songwriter, among other things. Read a full bio on the ABOUT page.

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