Back Into the Woods

What I’m listening to now, or consistently, is the band The Senators. Simply play the song in the background while you read this post.

Since they first started following me on Twitter, The Senators have been a significant part of my playlist.  The band originates from the southwest, which is the complete opposite of my being (and originating) in the northeast.  This Americana sounding band only captures sounds I’ve heard and fantasized about.  There is blues and folk and bluegrass in there with pinches of gospel and country and a modern touch.  It’s the type of music that everyone can relate to, and listen to with ease.  Even if you don’t particularly enjoy the soothing sounds, The Senators make great background music.  One of the tracks, at least one of them, could be incorporated into a formal event… a wedding perhaps… when it should happen sooner or later.

*     *     *

I decided to take a walk back into what has been designated as The Woods.  The decision to take the walk seemed only appropriate.  Aside going for a walk with my mother the other night, venturing upon the few streets of the old neighborhood and talking to a neighbor, hanging out with a close childhood friend of mine, Dan, had got my curiosity churning.  Aside, mom and dad did say they walked by The Ponds, a significant segment of the woods, and she said it took them a bit of time to find them.

In literature, the forest or wooded area can symbolize a plethora of things.  (This topic can go on for pages and pages, but I will do my best to be brief.  Y’all know me with tangents.)  A wooded area, despite the association with negative characteristics, can signify opposites:  good and evil, life/birth/fertility and death, comfort and fear, the unknown or familiarity with human nature/the earth.  The woods can be an area of solitude and safety, but it can also ignite fear from the unsafe possibilties that can spring up at any time.  The hero of the story can venture into the forest to fulfill/adhere to the call to adventure, but the villan can retreat into the forest since it can be their metaphorical fortress.  Despite the foreboding associations, if you want to look deeper, wood can stand for strength and the color green can symbolize religion and life; changing leaves can obviously signify the life cycle and rebirth.

In The Crucible and The Scarlet Letter, the woods is definitely seen as a forbidden and evil place.  Tom Sawyer and Huck Finn viewed the forest as a place for fun and adventure.  Robin Hood and his Merry Men lived in Sherwood Forest.  The woods is also a place of fun, imagination, and lessons as in Where the Wild Things Are and Bridge to Terabithia.

When considering our childhood, when considering parallels from the literature listed above, we had a blend of the imagination of Terabithia and the legend of Robin Hood.  Save the fact that we did live in Sherwood and the time spent romping around in the woods/forest, swinging on branches and vines; however, none of us were fatally injured.  (Knock on wood.)

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There was consideration for deforestation in order to make more houses and connect two developments in the area.  This was hard to grasp as a kid, because we didn’t want that to happen.  We loved our woods, and the consideration to connect these neighborhoods, despite their both being in Syracuse and in the West Genesee School District, was ridiculous.  In fourth grade, we had to draw a picture and write a page-length blurb about what you wanted to see change as far as the environment went.  The neighborhood currently being developed by the moth of the woods was on my radar.  I wanted to tear down the houses and replenish the woods; my mother said, and this was after the fact I had the picture drawn and colored in, that this could not be done.  Despite my being difficult and persistent, the decision to go with Onondaga Lake sufficed for my project.

The opening of the woods, above, was definitely widened.  When we kids were in our woods exploration prime, we would have to file in one-by-one, riding our bike or walking through the entrance and upon the trail.  This, clearly, is–painfully to admit–wider.

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This picture is out of place, because it was taken right after leaving the pond area.  It was a nice shot, so the executive decision was made to place it toward the beginning.  This path, as well, has been widened.  Despite this being a very pretty shot, there is pain behind it.  Change can be handled, accepted, or dismissed in several ways; all of this depends on the type of person.  Some bitterness flowed through by veins and in my blood.  The bitterness rattled around like kidney stones, wanting not to come out, and building in size so as much pain can be experienced when it finally comes time to exit the body.

If it were to change, then it should have been changed.  It’s dilly-dallying for lack of a better term, prolonging the inevitable as its said.

Memories are fond, and they are nice to hold onto them.  There is a great divide to view this as sustaining the memories, or it is looking at the scene as if it is on life support and idle in a hospital bed.  Should the plug be pulled or not?  I’m optimistic, however; and the former will do.

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You cannot determine the path that Nature will take.  The land was supersaturated, so walking along was difficult when avoiding getting my running sneaks soaked and/or ruined.  What was once two ponds is now one.  The natural divide has either been flooded over or eroded.  It’s still beautiful.

This area would be the end of our journey as kids.  There was another path we took, but that brought us around through tall grass and weeds, and it wasn’t/isn’t as exciting.  There was a second guess to venture into that section, but my mind reneged.  The path along the farthest side of the Mechapond was still in tact and perfect.  My smile could definitely be felt, and my cheeks were tired; smiling was happening this whole time, and I didn’t even realize it.  Naturally.

Often during the winter months the lakes would freeze and we would walk, run, skid, and slide across the tops of the ponds.  This wasn’t the brightest idea, but we’re kids and we like to have fun.

The ponds were designated as Snake Pond and Turtle Pond, being named after the fauna found around each of the bodies of water.  Here we have further literary allusions, speaking of the light versus dark, good versus evil, and so on.  Snakes, quick and cunning, can be associated with temptation and the devil.  Turtles, docile and slow, promote persistence and patience and longevity.  Turtle Pond was the smaller of the two, proving size and promise isn’t necessarily better.

The snakes would often ask for trouble, slithering around you to boast their front.  It was as if they were commanded, because of their lack of fear towards us humans.  They didn’t hesitate to showcase themselves, angling their spines and lifting their heads to display beady eyes while they opened their mouths to hiss.  This is where having sticks came in handy.  It’s doubtful that the snakes were commanded, trained, or possessed.

However, the following section could explain some reasoning…

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Adjacent to the now solitary pond, is the above picture.  What you see is a semi-circle of stones, which have surprisingly held up all of these years.  Toward the upper right corner is a smaller circle, which could–probably was–used for a fire pit.  This was there when we were much younger, but it can be recalled that the circle may have been more closed.  Perhaps is has been the same and my memory fails me; we do have the ability to over exaggerate as children.

This circle has been mentioned in previous posts, and the fact that stumbling upon this could only prove that evil did live in the forest.  We came across stone, which felt more like cement, with pieces of ceramic or porcelain embedded in the flat stone.  We popped out some of the stones for further examination.  We brought the pieces of whatever it was back to our childhood lab; the lab is where many experiments took place.  These experiments often included burning ants and various insects that we could find under magnifying glasses, and we eventually graduated to burning holes in other things (which led to our graduation into starting actual fires with said magnifying glasses).

There really isn’t a reason why this circle should (still) be here.  It’s scary and baffling.  Who knows why it was created in the first place and what (type of) person/people designed it?

It was thought that we may have come across a dead body, which would be really intriguing.  Four kids stumble upon a dead body… hmm… sounds like great idea for a short story and then a film adaptation…

There was no conclusive evidence as to what these ceramic shards were from.  One can appropriately conclude they were from an urn, which held the ashy remains of some helpless being sacrificed by the evil that lived in the woods.  This is the absolute truth.  This evil often manifested itself as cold breezes, overly creaking branches, looming dark clouds, and an elderly woman.

I shit you not.

The woman was seen rarely, and it’s been discussed that she may or may not be a figment of our imagination.  The evil may have even appeared to us as a clown, which would probably make a good novel down the road.  Kidding.  But in all seriousness, the evil that resided in the woods could have manifested itself into various disguises.  The elderly woman, despite toting a large walking stick to help her navigate over and through the terrain, didn’t wear anything that witches would normally wear–a pure white nightgown, and white is the symbolic opposite.  She must have bleached the hell out of that.  After all, the blood of children and tampering adults did have to be removed.

The Blair Witch Project was intimidating to Dan and I, opposed to Mike and Steve; the latter two thought the movie was stupid and a waste.  However, this proves the age difference.  Those two were young and naive while Dan and I, the older of the four, were seasoned and educated.

A cold shiver passed through my body…  It was time to leave.

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There were no remnants of where we once built our forts.  Maybe I didn’t look hard enough?  There was once a solitary trail, but now there are many, intertwining and confusing those who enter.  We made it a habit, more often than not, to purposely get lost.  Today was not the time and place for getting lost.  The damned evil was after me, and there was no use in trying to find the the old fort on the way back.  The spirits I pissed off–I have no idea how–were hot on my trail.

It’s going to take another day to venture in and try to find out were we all hung out.  If the rocks are still there, the boards nailed to the fallen down tree has to be there as well; unless it was removed.  If it is the latter, I am not going to be surprised, but I will be disappointed.  The four/five of us worked hard on it.  Rocco TP-ed the damn thing one time, which pissed us off; but we liked Rocco, and we still like him today.

The neighborhood bullies also had a hideout in the woods.  It was an actual little house constructed of plywood and those plastic pool covers, which was a smart idea for a roof.  But we flipped the house and destroyed it.  Yes, it wasn’t a very nice thing to do, but revenge is a dish best served cold.  We had to get them back for handcuffing the arm and leg of Mike to Dan (unsure as to whose arm and whose leg had the handcuff around it), and the pee-filled Super Soaker spray down.  The bullys were bastards, and you have to applaud them for doing it right.  So, we toppled over their fort, which may have started a war, which never really ignited.

We found beer cans in the house as well.  Oh, the hypocrisy!  Our younger and naive selves shunned this so-called underage drinking!  Who would have the audacity to do such a thing?  Flash to our accepted older and hypocritical persons where we were left shrugging our shoulders, looking at each other, and simply saying, “Ah.”

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These two pictures were once of the bog.  I could have sworn there was a hill overlooking the bog, but it could not be located.  As previously stated, I was in a rush to get the hell out of the woods.  The evil was upon me, and my sneakers were getting soaked.  The last thing I needed was my person to get possessed.  The possession would probably coagulate in my hand, leaving me no choice to cut off said hand with a chainsaw.  Say, that sounds like another great concept for a movie…  Hmm…

Despite the evil lurking, the woods is still a beautiful and fun place.  The last leg of my journey was a quiet one.  It was great to be back, and hopefully I will return sometime soon, preferably with my childhood friends.  Thanks for following me in this journey.

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2 thoughts on “Back Into the Woods

  1. I absolutely love the woods! I don’t think I’ve ever associated them with anything negative, at least in actual life as opposed to movies and books where they were seen that way. I, for one, consider woods to be peaceful and quiet where I can gather my thoughts and get a little movement into my day. They also serve as a “screw around” place for my friends and I. Living in a valley adds many hills and large rocks to the tree-filled areas which makes for lots of discovery fun. When we get to the top of the hills, it’s breathtaking, even when we’re not that far up. I’m in my mid-twenties and I still spend a lot of time there. I don’t think I’ll ever get sick of adventuring.

    • Thanks for the comment! I appreciate your input.

      Yeah, there are many good and bad references with “woods,” and it’s funny that I could probably pump out an essay about it right here and now. Sad but true.

      The woods is definitely everything for the positive with me, despite my focusing on making light of the negative. As you know, I probably don’t have to reiterate the “screwing around” aspect.

      The Adirondack Mountains area is my favorite place to be, which takes preference any tropical or coastal location.

      Thanks again for reading!

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