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Grandpa's Forest

For most of my childhood, Grandpa's forest was the center of my universe.

I went there to write poetry, and to be alone (no small feat with 10 siblings in a 4 room cabin for months at a time).

And in my mind, it is the home to which I return for its magic, its peace, its intrigue, and its protection.

We were always safe there, although I don't know why or how we were. But we were. And I dream of it still.

The forest wasn't large, but it stood just off my grandparents' cabin. And being in their realm was so exotic, rather than be in the confines of our cabin and the parental boundaries. The forest was always an accepted playground, as if my grandparents' proximity could ward off any injury.

To us, it was the Get out of Jail card. Oh, we could run, we could scream, we could scheme, we could dream. We could even hide. We could find (there were so many treasures). It was heaven.

So many animals lived there: marmots (we called them whistle pigs; they were adorable and loved to sunbathe); squirrels; chipmunks; birds; deer; elk; coyotes; rabbits; and so much more. And they were used to us, and not so afraid. They made us feel at home, welcome in their world. And in turn, we were taught to give them space, never to hurt them or tread upon their trust.

There are so many stories to tell about Grandpa's forest. It was such a defining place. There was a cave, and the wild ponies, and the Black Lagoon (very scary). And the endless path, which I walked for many hours, on many days, and walk it mentally still.

I wish I could recreate the smell. The pine was overwhelming, fresh sap and pinecones crunching at every step. And the long, faraway whistle of wind at the top of the trees starting beyond the forest and trickling through like a wandering stream.

Of all the fairytales and legends I have read, I have long known that magic does exist and is very real. It lies in what is, simply and unassuming.

There is nothing more difficult to recognize and accept than what is right before your eyes. And what we knew as ignorant children, we struggle to learn as sophisticated adults, the lesson having escaped us as we matured and lost our wisdom.

- Mary O. Fumento, 2007

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