Sometimes I have days where I don’t want to do anything remotely contributing to part of society. I want to escape. Whether it is in my car (I purposefully allow myself to get lost, sometimes) or on foot. I recently had one of those days, and it was right in my backyard. We have almost 2 acres. Beyond the ravine, we’ve never explored. I hear there were once fruit trees back there, but again, it was a mystical rumor that I had to see for myself.
I tried crossing the ravene once, but literally got stuck by some sort of thorny bush. I then had to rethink my crossing strategy. How funny is it that we blindly hike in already charted paths, but are afraid of ticks and poison ivy in woody brush that hasn’t been cleared? These mini dangers are imminent, but I took precaution, put on non-snagging long sleeves, my felt fisherman’s hat (I have a large head for a woman… and a man), a vest to hold my phone, my pruning gloves (because… obviously), and some trustworthy boots, plus a hatchet (update: I clearly do not know how to use a hatchet to clear dead limbs– and this thing needs sharpened).
I went to the top of the ravine that runs through our yard where an old wooden bridge used to be. I climbed down into the muddy waters and hoisted myself up the other side trusting tiny saplings to hold my weight. I began weaving my way through the tiny forest of dead sticks trying to avoid the superfluous amounts of poison ivy that engulfed this side of our property. I got to the base of this freakishly beautiful tree. Apple? Regardless, it is now dead. I begin to picture what this area looked like 30 years ago. A picnic spot? Why is tiny checkered print coming to mind? Off I venture into the thick of the weedy brush.
I encounter this adorable Charlie Brown-esque pine. Adorable in every way. There are several of these cuties surrounding me. I finally come to a run off full of amazing rocks that I can use for landscaping. And a bunch of junk. A tire, a reel mower blade, scrap metal, chimney inserts, and some rusty pipe. I feel like I am 12 years old again. I think of ways I can use this hunk of garbage to build a tree house… or at least a hideout for reading.
I hear a rustle in the brush not even five yards away (let’s be honest, I have terrible depth perception and couldn’t even walk 2 yards if I tried). I slowly freak the hell out as it’s day light and I’ve never seen my cat over here. But there she is. Rubbing her tick ridden self over my legs and using a log as a scratching post. Oh, Ally.
This adopted cat had never known what it was like to be outside when I first took her home. And here she is as my guide, roaming the hillside. She was an at risk cat that didn’t play nice with other animals or many people. She only wanted sole attention from one individual. She often had spastic attacks and made physical strikes towards people. I thought she wasn’t going to be able to be part of the family once I had a kid and I kind of lost hope for her. We then moved to Ferngully, Keith gradually taught her how to hunt, eat mice, and just “go” outside. She’s a lot more calm and has few mental hiccups. She has a sense of adventure and makes a great “farm cat.” She doesn’t bother with the ducks at all, but will fight another cat that tries to come into the duck pen.
Tangent, sorry. I am full of them. All in all there are lots of baby oak trees, poison ivy, a dead apple tree, some new pines, a holly bush, and a few other trees I can’t pronounce and forgot what they were (Keith knows– he knows those kinds of things). There goes my current orchard fantasy. And my syrup fantasy (although, you can tap many other trees besides a maple)… we’ll have to revisit this soon. I can see this easily cleared out full of small walking trails for our little one when she is older. And I can plant trees that yield.
If anything, I got to escape for a half hour and just wander an area I’ve never been that is right in my own yard. There is something metaphorical to be said about this experience. That sometimes it is OK to take a mental health moment and get out of your own mind. You don’t have to wander far to do it either.