Into the Woods

Whispers of old trees


Clatsop Trail in Ecola State Park, north of Cannon Beach, Oregon

Thank you for stepping INTO THE WOODS.

What you find here is peopled, weathered, and storied by the whispers of old trees, the calls of quirky crows, the howls of cunning coyotes, the yips of good dogs, and the songs and poetry of memories and dreams. I walk quietly into the woods, forests, rivers, and wetlands—all of these wild places—to take risks, to observe and reflect, to ease the uneasiness in my heart and mind, to connect with the natural world and my human communities, and to change my life for the better. I like to go places where all the ways of finding my way back would take forever.

Observing the marks, tracks, trails, and passages in wild places, I listen to the whispers of Earth and Spirit and am present with the air and water, rock and soil, light and shadow, color and texture. My impressions of the physical landscape put me in touch with my mental landscape, where my memories and dreams reside, where my melancholy and optimism rest and awaken, and where my gratitude grows.

The woods of nature’s landscape and of my mindscape are my places to listen. They are animated with the stories, events, scenes, motions, and emotions of life. I walk into the woods to remember and reclaim what I have lost, what I have let go, what I have held onto, what I need to release, and what I want to take with me. In the light through the canopy, the knots and textures of wood, the faces in bark, the shadows of trunks, the tracks in dirt, the community of trees—and the whispers there—is endless inspiration to write.

My writing process is a quest “into the woods” where anything may happen. I task myself with procuring wonder—from my past and present, my memories and dreams, my everyday experiences, the silence between the rumbles and the whispers, the shadows real and imagined, my longings and protracted heartbreaks, simple moments and complicated entanglements, good people I have loved and lost, and the landscape of home and not-so-faraway places. I am often surprised where the journey takes me.

Telling stories from the past and the present, I try to examine them closely and be honest with what they reveal to me about a place, a person, an animal, and my own nature. My walks into the woods—both the literal and the metaphorical woods—reverse the curse I sometimes put on my own heart. I walk out of the woods not always with my heart’s desire but with a lesson learned or a new awareness realized.

May you walk into the woods and be reminded that there is always more to know and feel. As long as we have breath, there is always more to listen for and learn from the whispers of old trees. Have a good visit here.

Cheryl Kuck

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