Shack in the Woods

July 31, 2017

My grandfather cut trails in the woods behind his old house in Vermont. He used to lead my brother, cousins, and parents on groups hikes when we'd visit. Along the way, we'd pass cool things, like trees with loop-de-loops, and an old broken-down shed with nearby materials like shovels and sleighs. It's surprising how much you can see in the middle of nowhere. Walking on these trails was not only exercise for my body, as I navigated around rocks and sticks, but for my brain, as I imagined all the possibilities that cause those things to be there.

I think there was a time when that half-buried shed, sleigh, bucket, and shovel, were used for gathering maple syrup. Someone probably used the sleigh for transportation from tree to tree, and used the bucket to catch the dripping sap. I figure they must have sold the syrup, and maybe turned it into a year-round business. Considering how popular maple is today, lots of people would have paid for candy and syrup.

Those people must've aged as everyone does, to the point where they could no longer make it out to those woods. It's a long hike. I'd like to think it was a long happy life that came to a peaceful end at a very old age. But the shed was then left there, empty. Over time, wind, storms, and years brought it to collapse. Most of the metal rusted, and leaves cover what's left, lost in the woods.

When my little white dog walked past it last spring, she mostly ignored and sniffed around the bucket, returning from the woods covered in mud. But I walked past it thinking, what could have happened there? What is its story? For all anyone knows, purple aliens could have lived there with pet unicorns who ate cookies for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. That's probably not likely though. I do not really believe in aliens, and even if they do exist, I doubt they're on Earth.

It's still fun to imagine all this stuff, and think how sometime in the future, families might hike past my old broken down house. Maybe they'll wonder what used to go on there. Who lived there? Could it have been aliens? That's up to them.

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