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My Moments of Peace in a World of Chaos

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My story isn’t about a big, life changing event in my life, it isn’t about any event. It is about my favorite place in the world and how it makes me feel each and every time I am there. The memories of this place captures many moments in time like snapshots of peace and tranquility that sustain me. It isn’t my house, or my room or even any of the places we have travelled. All I need to do to get to my special place is to walk the length of our property. For the first half of my trip I am warmed by the sun. I love the feel of the sun at any time, but especially in the Spring or Fall when there is a chill in the air. I make my way through the orchard that my parents planted when I was only two, and as I step out I can finally see my destination. If you were with me you may not even see it, and you surely wouldn’t see it for what it is to me. But I know it is there, because I worked beside my father as we cleared the way years ago. The portal is just ahead now, the entrance to my place of peace where I go to be alone among God’s creations.

As I step into the sun dappled shade of the path we made so long ago I know that there is not one inch of this path that is unknown to me, not one bit that I don’t love. For a moment I just stand, still and quiet, as I enjoy the cool, soft breeze kissing my cheeks so recently warmed by the sun. With my eyes closed the sounds that surround me in what others may perceive as silence reverberate in my head. Above me the breeze that caresses my face blows with force among the tree tops, the leaves on the highest thin branches sing a quiet, rustling song to me. The sturdy trunks of trees, older than I can ever hope to be, moan and groan in loud protest of the winds assault. In the farthest distance I hear the angry, screeching cry of Blue Jays as if they know I have stepped out of my world and into theirs. Before I open my eyes to begin my journey through the hard woods, pine forest and swamp land I fill my lungs with the cool, fresh air. I am sure that nowhere else in the world can smell as sweet as the air does here. The fragrance I enjoy is a beautiful mixture of pine and cedar trees, wild flowers, grasses, fallen leaves decaying from years gone by and yes, even the dirt here adds its own special scent.

Finally I step off, ready to begin my trek; the path I’m on is far from straight, winding its way in and out among the towering pines. We weren’t allowed to fell even one little tree in its creation on orders from my mother. The needles of past seasons beneath my feet offer a soft cushion that I have found nowhere else on earth, and I move here silently. When I leave the pine forest taking one small step and I am deep in the hard woods. The path is well worn from my countless walks, but on either side of me the undergrowth is lush and full, I walk carefully where the path narrows to be sure not to disturb the lovely colorful carpet A natural balance of grasses, ferns and lovely woodland wild flowers, whose appeal is not so much in their fragrance as it is in their delicate beauty, grow on either side. Further off in the woods to my left is the massive oak tree I grew up playing on and under, and grew to love. It is my sacred oak tree; for she has probably grown there 100 years before my birth and will likely survive 100 years beyond me. When I was six and my sister ten we tried to join our hands to encircle her, but even when our parents joined us we could not reach around her wizened old trunk.

In the swamp land, though, is my favorite part of this path, and the time of year will determine if I walk through or around. We call it a swamp, but the state of Wisconsin calls it a Certified Wetland Habitat. This means we can’t pick even one of the flag iris’s that decorate it in the spring with their soft lavender or bright yellow dresses swaying on four foot stems. We can’t disturb the flow of the water as it passes through and fills it every spring, I can only sit and watch the frogs that awaken there each year from the state of suspended animation they sank into late in the previous fall. When the frogs begin to sing, I know that spring has truly begun, and when their lovely songs end, winter is just around the corner for us. During my walk I am likely to see a deer or two, along with numerous other creatures that make their homes here in my woods, The blue jays have caught up with me now and move from branch to branch following me on my journey, as if to assure themselves that I will leave everything just as I found it. When I have walked the entire path of peace that winds through the woods in a circle of sorts, I have walked a bit more than a mile.

Back where I began I must choose, Should I retrace my steps back into the warmth of the sun, back through the orchard planted 15 years ago, back through the yard where I played as a little girl with my sister and finally back to my house? Or should I walk the path again to see what I can see in this place which is always and forever the same yet every time different. I believe that no matter where my life takes me, no matter how old I grow to be, I will never find another place on God’s earth that I love as much as this winding path through the woods that my Dad and I made.





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