The Woods: (Memoirs of a Teenage Author)

(This is post #7 of the My Journey to Gritty: Memoirs of a Teenage Author series)

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There are not many experiences that equal the delight of running through the woods barefoot.
Well, at least back when I was a teenager. Nowadays I would prefer a nice pair of sandals. OUCH!
Anyway... one of my favorite things to do while I lived at my grandparents' house was explore the game refuge behind their home. There were acres and acres of woods, underbrush, streams and waterfalls to explore. I felt like a character out of a story book as I pulled up my skirts, splashed through puddles, and swung on huge, gnarly vines of ivy hanging down from the trees. Sometimes I'd climb up onto big rocks and just sit quietly for a while, listening to the birds twitter at each other, watching the squirrels leap from tree to tree and the bugs skittering through the moss and leaves.
It was so peaceful there. So... clean.

Compared to the blazing sunlight outside, the forest was dark and cool as I entered it to find the adventuresome fellow. It felt lovely... I could understand why he wanted to explore as I followed his clefted hoof prints past trees and underbrush to a stream. 
Something special must have been drawing him on. He didn’t seem to have stopped to nibble on bushes or anything. Crossing the stream was especially odd because goats are not usually fond of water. Swimming is just not their thing.  
I thought about all this as I stood on the stream bank, then I shrugged, pulled my skirt up to my knees and waded in. The current was gentle and in no hurry to get anywhere. I could see the slate colored rocks at the bottom as the horse manure caked on my bare feet washed away in the clear, cool water. 
When I got to about the middle of the stream, I started feeling funny, almost as if someone was watching me. I let my skirt down into the swirling water and looked around, searching the underbrush and trees all around me for anything out of place. 

Although I had been raised with goats for most of my life, I didn't have to chase them around that game refuge. Instead I oftentimes palled around with my brothers and sister. The middle brother was just a couple years younger than me, and the two youngest were about five and six. We had lots of fun skipping rocks on the lake and racing scraps of bark in bubbling streams. (Think "Pooh-Sticks".) We climbed up craggy rock faces and found small animal caves to curl up in. My littlest brother was certain that the constant moo-ing he heard from the neighboring pastures was coming from "wild forest cows".
We didn't run into any dangerous forest cows, but one time we ducked through the drainage tunnel going under a road and stumbled upon a massive boar swine. The thing was dead, thankfully. But it was so freshly dead it had hardly started to rot. A hunter had probably shot it, then left it in the ravine instead of trying to drag it out.

Our daily reprieve in the woods was refreshing. We came home rosy-cheeked and laughing. The freedom to run felt especially wonderful after the stifling trailer park.
Sooner or later though, we had to come inside and face reality.
We were essentially homeless, or rather, house-less. We were guests in our grandparents' home while awaiting relocation. My family was in limbo.

Click here to read the next post in this series: Limbo

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