(Write a story about a teenager spending their final days at home before going away to college.)
As I walk out this morning it is a totally different look to my familiar world, it is soggy and wet. This kind of day usually would find me playing mindless games on my tablet, using my eyes and hands but not so much my brain, but today I feel the need to remember it all. I could use this rainy day as an excuse to stay in and go over my multitude of lists, what to bring initially, what I might need later on if all goes according to plan, books or music, all the necessary things. Today I feel the need for space, and I’m not sure why, maybe stories I had heard or pieces of conversations but I somehow knew that once you leave your childhood you can go back to visit but it will never be the same. I wanted to remember, I wanted to etch my love of our land and my memories on my brain, and so I went out!
Wearing a rain poncho is like being in a collapsed tent but it serves its purpose, keeping my hair and shoulders dry. I quickly get comfortable with the sound it makes, the swish swish swish, and note it is a way to mark my rhythm, the cadence of my walk. No extra gear today to capture my world, no camera with a big lens so I must rely on memory to write my thoughts when I return. I have so many images but none in the rain.
Most of nature is under cover, deer find a thicket or log to lay against to keep out of the wind that drives the rain, butterflies are in the trees and shrubs, under leaves waiting for a break in the rain to go out to nectar or lay eggs. It seems I am out here alone and yet it doesn’t feel lonely as I am aware of the teeming life around me. The seasons of walking our land leaves my mind full of details, past encounters, interesting discoveries and information gleaned from the lingering questions that had to be looked up or investigated when I returned.
I have hardly begun and already my pant legs are wet to my knees and full of the sticking prickly weed seeds so prevalent in the late summer. My footing is not as secure as when the grasses are dry but I have no trouble getting half way up the big hill behind my home. This vantage point allows me to look to the south across the fields, some already beginning to change to brown and ready for harvest and a few like the soybean fields just turning golden, still patches of green in among the gold. The corn fields are drying down but need dry cold nights before they will be harvested.
Away further south I hear Sandhill Cranes in the marsh, they have been gathering in larger and larger groups recently for their flight south. The sound becomes raucous as something or someone disturbs them. And so the seasons continuously move. I best move too as even in the rain, if you stop, the voracious mosquitoes will find you, and now my breath is back to normal, I continue upward to the six acre wild pasture on top.
There was a time, early in our life here, that you could see miles and miles to the horizons, in every direction except west. My father had chosen a very tall tree on the edge of the flat wild pasture just before the land drops away to become the steep hillside and in this tree he had constructed a treehouse for his sons. The views from this tree fort, as we called it, were amazing. You could even imagine flying or space as the space around you was free of everything but air. Hours and hours were spent there examining our finds and snacking on apples or carrot sticks and Kool aid.
As time has a way of doing, nothing remains static and so the treehouse weathered into a bunch of elevated rotting boards and the “boys” got summer jobs and rode their bikes to the creek and spent time away from our land. Now, our woods have grown so full, the trees so tall that once on top, you are in an open field but surrounded by forest. The views all gone and the treehouse just a reminder of the days gone too.
I am tempted to go down through the woods but know the rain has made the steep hillside treacherous, slippery with already fallen wet leaves. Yes, many missteps and small accidents taught us lessons my father's preaching never could even if we listened, which we often didn’t or pay enough attention to his words. But it is wise to pay attention, it is only smart to avoid hazards.
I walk on to the west to our fence line, turn north and finally end up at the edge of our woods. I stand looking at the patterns of fallen tree branches, the worn down deer trails, like avenues used over and over, worn down and bare of vegetation. Am I tempted to follow? Yes I am, but it is raining hard and my poncho would catch on the branches and bushes....it would not be fun....or smart. Nothing moves here and so I turn back toward home on the safest path.
I know this walk is important but I could never explain why. It just seems I need to take this with me, this feeling, these views and memories, maybe to sustain me for awhile until I can attach the feeling of home to a new place, the dorm or wherever I might be that isn’t here.
What a different feel this walk has had compared to my normal spring and summer walks where I discover new things constantly. The discovery walks hold excitement but next week will be a new and big excitement. But this walk has been very nice, in a drippy damp and soggy sort of way.
As I pass under the Maple tree, almost back to the house, a strong wind gust unloads much of the rain that has collected on the tree leaves, it feels like a sudden and surprising deluge, the sound on my poncho so loud and the feeling much more than rain drops, laughing I look up just in time for a following breeze that completes the rain dump right on my face! It is quite wonderful!
I am more than delighted that I went out! I feel I will be ok in my new forest of buildings and labs and dorm rooms. New discoveries but perhaps each night as I climb into my bunk feeling the weight of my day of study and play, these calm memories will allow me to go on no matter what lies ahead.