The word forest has for each of us a realm of possibilities. Hansel and Greta would not be the impactful story it is in another location such as an urban metropolis, it isn’t the witch intending to cook them that is the crux of the story but of their desolation in a wood. The path of bread crumbs is not really a well thought out plan and sure to fail.
Another of the classics Little Red Riding Hood is again set in a wild wood where a little girl must be wary of a big bad wolf intending to eat her. Grandmother’s house is the destination but only a kindly woodsman can bring a happy ending to the story.
Walt Disney did much with the tale of Brothers Grimm’s account in his depiction of Snow White and the Seven Dwarves. Inanimate objects such as mirrors and even the trees themselves come alive in the story of an innocent maiden at the mercy of an envious witch queen. Briar Rose, known to Disney’s fans as Sleeping Beauty is a maiden again at the mercy of a jealous and immensely powerful individual. This time it is a wicked fairy that is the villain that twists the wood with dark magic to create a wall of thorns.
The forest is one of the most important supporting players in many of William Shakespeare’s plays as well; what would A Midsummer Night’s Dream be without the forest? Can we imagine Tatiana and Oberon arguing convincingly in a park in an urban center? Could we picture Puck be the devious sprite in a town square? No, is the resounding answer for we need those wild places that haven’t been completely discovered and mapped to imagine that there is in some small corner a little magic left to find.
In our big blue gem of a planet I am always pleased to hear when a new species has been discovered. Whether it be plant or animal I want to believe we haven’t found everything there is to find…that there is still some curious item left in the bottom of the drawer and that the end is not in sight.
I have shared before about the post Revolutionary home my maternal grandparents lived in for all of my childhood and even many years of my adulthood. Their home for a child was a wondrous and dare I say it even a magical place. A visit was something we cherished long after we were back in the hub of a cosmopolitan city.
First there was the food; my grandmother was an excellent baker and cook. Dinner at their home with my grandmother’s homemade bread and real butter spread across it was a meal in its self. Once the meal was complete with dessert of homemade apple pie or peach cobbler (many times these were fruits harvested at our relative’s farms) we pushed back from the table spread with antique china and glasses old but still new to us. Her table was like the heart of a beehive and around that were rooms and rooms of antiques, old books, magazines and other oddities that had survived the generations for us to explore.
In their tiny parlor stood an antique desk of dark and mysterious wood taller than tallest men in our family. On rainy days my grandmother would open the lid and I could pull out the top drawer and there were things that children had found interesting and curious for nearly one hundred years; bits of ribbon with stars and stripes to show patriotism from different wars, old fountain pens, cardboard pennies, small pocket knives and most important paper to draw on and colored pencils.
There were things that I usually played with but the thing that I remember most was I didn’t try to discover everything at once, I wanted to always save something to discover later. For me woods and wild places are like that big antique desk; a repository of adventures yet to come, and something new to discover later.
We are through the spring of 2018 and on the cusp of summer when the days grow long and the nights short. The rains have left our woods lush and green and sometimes as I sit near our flagstone patio and listen to the wood thrush’s flutelike song in the lapis lazuli twilight, I feel that just possibly there may be magic left in the world, or at least in the wild places.
Parts VII of The Guild Silas and Cygnet have found they are not alone in their dungeon. Will these newly discovered inhabitants be friend or foe? Only courage will reveal the truth.
The many rainy days has given me time to draw these images on simple construction paper with wax and graphite pencils, much like I would have done at my grandmother’s home.
Tonight if the skies are willing we may view our beautiful May full moon. Be it over the ocean, a lake or in a quiet wood take a moment to listen to a soliloquy by nature and untouched by the commotion of society.