TBT: The Alleghany Rattler July 1967: I Remember a Woods To Walk In

Editor’s Note:  As part of our year-long celebration of our 100th Year Anniversary (1922-2022), we’ll post a Throwback Thursday edition of our Alleghany Rattler Newspaper to give you a peek into life at camp across those 100 summers!

In this piece we see just how reflective a Ghany Girl can be. There’s a poetic and contemplative celebration for nature in this writing, pointing to just how much it restores the soul.

I Remember a Woods To Walk In

By Jean Bell Moseley

Give me a woods to walk in and you can have all the tangible riches of a Kubla Khan. A whole hillside of oak and hickory, cedar and pine, dogwood and redbud will suit me fine — a woods where I can walk for half a day and never come to the edge. I want to place my feet on some old grown-over trail and follow it until it ends mysteriously, and then make a trail of my own. I want to feel the springiness of moss and leaves beneath my feet, hear the crunch of acorns or the snap of dry twigs. I want some outcropping boulders covered with lichens, where I can stop and marvel at their minute etchings and small green shells.

In spring I want to find a patch of bloodroot, some dogtooth violets, Dutchman’s-breeches, wild Sweet William, jack-in-the-pulpit. I want to savor the peace of a place where getting and spending are alien things. There must be some squirrels and birds to acknowledge my friendly salute and take note of my passing. I wish to sit on some old dead stump and note the new sprouts coming up around, testifying to nature’s repairs, the dying and the rising up again.

In summer I want the branches overhead to be so entwined they form a green canopy, making it cool underneath, yet with a blue window here and there where one can peek through to see the home of the galaxies and ponder the endlessness of space.

I have spoken often of autumn in the woods — the tangy smell, the blue haze, the color. I’ll always go home to the hills in autumn, leaving the brash and busy commerce of living and walk the quiet ways and harvest my peace of mind.

And give me a winter woods to walk in so that I will know how to face the stark realities of life. Let me look long at the trees stripped of their foliage and see the very backbone of life. Let me feel the crystal coldness of the wind in my face, the silence of a woods filling up with snow. Let me feel this low ebb of life, and study again the secret of the long deep sleep.

Always and always I come away from a walk in the woods refreshed in body and mind and spirit. There are deep fundamental lessons to be learned in the solitude of a quiet woods. Underbrush reaches out to snag away the cares of the day. Overhanging limbs catch up and hold, abated, the worries and fears. A dropping leaf, acorn, or floating feather caresses the head as softly as a benediction, easing the friction and tenseness of a world where men compete for material things.

Let me make friends of the sycamore, the ash, the maple; lay my cheek against their rough bark, look up through their branches, see the harmony of tree and sun and sky, and let my very soul climb up to heaven.

Give me a woods to walk in and I’ll give back to the world a person at peace with God and man.