Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Child Perspectives: The woods

When I was younger, one of the many things I used to define myself by was my 'walks in our woods.' Now, this is one area that has REALLY changed for me over the past five years. Especially true since I fainted three years ago.

First off, if I'm honest, I wasn't really in the woods. I had this tree that was just barely 'in' the woods, but I never went past that tree. The four Tree. This tree was literally three steps into the woods. I had to step off the path behind the barn and there it was. Beyond this point, I never went unless I was with an adult.

Second, why. I have asthma. And one of my top five triggers is mold. I couldn't play in the leaves on the game field, and I couldn't' go walk through the leaves in the woods. If I did, I had to bring along my emergency medication and suffer the consequences over the next week.

My third why, fear, has only gotten stronger with age, to the point where me going into the woods... It only happens if I'm on a cement pathway, and only if I have someone with me.

About fiveish years ago we had a drought kill many of our trees. Including the four tree. Yes, guys, it's gone. And I had a few near misses with some of these branches. I was hit twice, once moving branches and dislodged one and it hit me, the second time I was working on pushing over an almost down tree, kicked it, and it snapped about half way up and hit me. I'm glad BOTH of these were respectively small. Neither one larger around than my arm,  But the combined effort did dislocate my left shoulder. but this only made me conscious of danger, it didn't stop me toying on the edges.

What really made these adventures into the edges of our woods stop was what happened while walking back home from the barn that one time about four years ago. It was a pretty normal walk back, I was on one of those months where I was avoiding being seen if at all possible.  I really try to avoid people who have short tempers. I don't handle being yelled at well. I'd rather ride low and just not be seen, and not go anywhere close, than risk the smallest possibility of some short tempered person venting that wrath on me.

So I was going the long way home, Walking from the barn, through a narrow strip of trees on the edge of our property, around to our driveway, and then back to the house. This is about a quarter mile. Suddenly, the animals around me spooked, the chickens and geese raced back to the barn, and my dog got UNDER me. All around me was suddenly deathly quiet. Toffee started growling. My eyes went up, above me, about twenty or so feet, and to my left about ten was a MOUNTAIN LION. I don't think it was quite full grown, but it was definitely big enough to spook me pretty bad. I yelled at it, it vanished and then I took for as fast as I could back up to the road, then to the house.

It took a week, and several more sightings before I admitted to it. It was such a brief moment I saw it, there are still moments I wonder if it was my imagination. My aunt had been telling me horror stories about such things for almost a year, and some had been seen in our area. On top of a car, on game cams, and the like. Imaginary or not, I won't go into any woods at all without a large group that includes older adults that I trust.

After that, I was sitting on the path beside the goat pen whittling. This is something I previously did a lot. I'm not great, but I'm comfortable doing it. When suddenly I had an urge to go walk. I stood up and started walking back up to the barn. I hadn't gone very far when there was this crash behind me. I turned around to see a branch longer, and almost as big around as I am, laying right where I had previously been sitting.

It later took two men to move it... My guardian angel really had to work overtime back then.

Only twice since this time I've been back anywhere close to the woods. Once with my father to go hunting for the three mountain lions we saw in the middle of the night... We saw tracks and a bunch of fur where they obviously bedded down for the night. And then a ton of claw marks... but thankfully they'd moved on before we got down there to investigate. Talk about REALLY freaked out now. If the other events hadn't been bad enough.

Then the second time a group of ten of us went down into the woods with two adults to be shown our property line. After much argument, and a couple of threats, I reluctantly joined them and stayed in the EXACT center. Holding onto two younger cousins for comfort. (I'm still teased about it.)

After that, My line was the rabbit hutch. But a year ago now a dog got in and murdered my rabbits. I'll never forget the sight. Traumatized isn't the word for it, watching as they one by one died from their injuries. Rabbits that I'd grown to love and cherish. Four died that way, another to a heart attack, then the last was sent away to my aunt's and died comfortably in my cousin's arms of old age months later.

Since then, the front yard, and the road have been my areas to roam.... well, up until this summer.

I won't go into it. But I had another traumatic episode with the forces of evil and now I don't even want to go up to the road. Not that I have time for such frivolity anymore. With everything I'm trying to do, a walk is often the last thing on my mind.

So yeah, That's one area in the past few years I've changed.

To be quite honest, I want nothing to do with the woods. Well, if there is a cement path, and other people... like at a park, maybe. But I'm not doing that alone. You don't have two near misses with a mountain lion and then be careless.

The first time was in the woods, the second my uncle saw it in our play yard... and then I went with my dad to investigate... that story I've already mentioned.

Nope! Brave I pretend to be, Dumb not a chance.

So that's my confession here, I'm going to bed. I'm way too tired to try to think up a way that is clever to call this to an end.

VK out.

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