Years ago, when I needed to find an answer or seek knowledge or just gain Energy, I would walk into the Secret Forest, situated behind my home where I lived at the time. It had been aptly named by my granddaughter Bree. Big old trees lived here...grand old firs living amongst an understory of salal, ferns...amazing wildflowers of all kinds lifted their heads, each in their turn.
Mushrooms proliferated. Chanterelles, on some years, were more plentiful than we could eat. There were huckleberries, salmonberries, blackberries...and wildlife visited often, hiding in those secret places in the Forest.
Some ancient stumps looked like giant caves, lifting their huge maws to the sky. They were always covered with babies, these old stumps. They housed multitudes of families of grouse and pheasants and other wildlife. Some animal was always surprising me, when I walked amongst them, deep in thought. On rainy days, the Forest would be hushed, watching and waiting. The only sound, deep in the Secret Forest, was that of water dripping down from the tree tops, nourishing the Earth beneath. But once Rain fled for other parts, sounds of wildlife exploded from the branches of the trees and the shrubbery beneath.
If I ventured off the path, it was hard going. So many fallen branches underneath the lush salal were sure to make me trip, at least once or twice. There were huge sunken depressions in the earth that filled with winter's water, harbouring frogs and other amphibious creatures. Bushes would reach out their arms to snag my clothes, further impeding the treacherous progress. And sometimes, there would be gigantic fallen logs, slippery with moss, where it seemed there was nothing to do but retreat.
It was my place of sanctuary; it was where I sought balance. We have huge old Forests here in Qualicum Beach, but they seem impersonal to me; I have not yet made friends with the beings who live here. I have not meandered off the path, where I would find huge fallen trees, all nurse logs. I have not visited daily, so I miss the sudden flowering patches of wild violets that arises seemingly from nowhere. Life changes every hour, sometimes, in the Forests.
I miss the Secret Forest with a fierce longing, at times. There is a part of me that goes away when I don't commune with fine old Trees, the ones who have stood for longer than my own years. Grandfather Tree does a fine job of communicating his wisdom; but the clamour of a wild Forest soothes and balances me. It connects me to Earth, shows me that meandering off the trodden path can bring great joy, at the sights that may be seen just over the next obstacle.
I connect like that with the Forests of Queen's Bay, in Balfour, where John and Clo live, and where we spent the last part of our vacation. I did not have much time to wander in the Forest that surrounds their home this visit, but the familiar energy was there.
It reminded me, once more, that there are many Forests, all over the world. Many that give succor and sustenance to the beings that inhabit them, and the people that live there. It takes time to know the habitat; I haven't taken the time to know the grand old Forests here.
Is it perhaps because I do not want to become attached to a Forest and its life once again? Maybe it will disappear from my life, just as all the Forests I have known which are no longer visited, except in my dreams. Am I finding it too much effort to wander and familiarize myself in a Forest I do not own? It is a mystery to me.
The Forests are calling, though; I hear them clearly. As I drive to visit my mother, the road winds through Cathedral Grove, a place of immense beauty. I have little time on these days...I tell myself I will stop here the next time I come. But the voices from the Trees, as I drive, are becoming louder, and next time must happen soon.
As I walk among the Tree beings, I will make sure to listen, and balance, and ground. A Forest I have grown up beside deserves a visit, and I, along with all of us, need the wisdom it has to impart.
And since I'm increasingly feeling as if I am lost in a wild, untamed Forest, with unforeseen branches and logs just waiting to trip me up, and crevices around every corner, I will ask for guidance to find my way.
There are gentle, serene Glades, too.