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  • Kristan Higgins

The woods are lovely, dark and deep

Updated: May 3, 2022


After a very long winter, spring is in its full glory around here. Our valley is shadowy and mysterious and full of life. Dearest Son saw a black bear cub the other day, can you imagine? The owl family is loud and, I like to imagine, tight-knit, the adults hooting, the little ones in their funny, screechy answering whistle. The wood thrush sings until dark, the last bird to go quiet for the night, and the nuthatch seems to be the first one awake, at 4:17.


When I was little, our valley and woods seemed brimming with magic. I was convinced that I’d find a cave with no end, or a tunnel leading to someplace other, where maybe unicorns lived, or where I’d find the secret to flying. I even had a little bag should I find such a place, a patchwork drawstring bag I’d made in Girl Scouts. Inside, I had all the necessities: a pocket knife from my grandfather for tools and self-protection; a candle and matches for that tunnel or cave; and a Twinkie, in case I needed food.


I studied uprooted trees for secret entryways and noted which moss beds seemed to have a shimmer of magical power. I looked for fairy rings (and found a few, I’m quite sure). Like a Druid, I could feel the life of the trees around me, all that green, the shadows, and the sunshine. Once, as I sat on a hillside, an owl flew right over my head, its wings silent, and landed in a branch so close to me I could see it blink.


In our woods, I’ve seen deer and turkeys, coyotes, and foxes. Once, I saw a moose, and once, the elusive and sinister fisher cat.

The other day, I went for a walk by myself in the woods, remembering those times when I yearned to find that secret passage to the magical world. Now that I’m an adult, I can see that I was living in it all along.


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