In the woods, is perpetual youth.
In the woods, we return to reason and faith.
--Ralph Waldo Emerson
I've always loved the woods. Probably because I love being surrounded by trees. In many places around Los Angeles we have a pitiful lack of good trees in most neighborhoods. The upscale neighborhoods always seem to have plenty of nice big old tree-lines streets. But most of us have to make do with what happens to be planted around us.
When I was kid growing up in Torrance, CA during the 50s and early 60s, the area was still under developement. There were fields and marshes where Del Amo shopping center now stands. But before it did, my dad used to take my brother and I there to play. My dad appreciated how important it was for kids to get out in nature and he took us out a lot. He grew up in Michigan and he spent a great deal of time out in the woods and along the rivers there.
Many was the vacation spent at Idyllwild or Lake Tahoe where we could run around in the shade of the trees all day. It was heaven for a little pagan like me! I recognized right away that this was where I felt the best; the most secure and complete. Among the birds and animals I felt at home. The songs of birds and the bubbling streams were my hymns and the canopy of trees my cathedral.
Whenever I come home from visiting my folks in Washington State, I always feel exposed; up there you are surround almost everywhere by trees. It is a very comforting feeling and one that I truly miss living in L.A. Thankfully I work on the UCLA campus, which is full of big trees--and it often gets me through the week until I can get out on another adventure in the outdoors.
I still go to the woods--or something close to it--as much as I can now. It is where I feel the best and am at my happiest. In today's world it is important to leave behind the travails and trivialities of life and enter Nature's heart. It is where I am indeed a perpetual youth, and where I find my faith and reason restored.