Walking Through the Forest

We’re walking through the forest,
And looking at the trees.
I hope the ticks don’t bite me,
Cause I don’t want Lyme disease.
– Anonymous 10 year old fellow hiker

April 29 13 106

Family hike, circa 2003

We’ve been hiking our kids through the woods since before they could walk. Some of our most enjoyable strolls occurred when they were toddlers, close to the ground and prone to flop down and pick up all manner of flora and fauna.

What treasures we dragged home! Sticks, feathers, pinecones, flowers, leaves and rocks. Lots and lots of ‘special’ rocks.

April 29 13 068

Long Hill, Beverly MA

These days we proceed at a faster pace, and I carry only water and a camera. A new sign greeted us at a favorite trail this weekend, sporting emphatic warnings about the potential to contract Lyme disease.  Although some of us were more wary than others, we trekked on while chanting Grace’s an anonymous fellow hiker’s magical anti-tick spell.

I stopped often to listen, look and snap photos.  The sunlight was ever so slightly filtered by the bare but budding trees.  The forest floor was coming alive with neon green skunk cabbage, Solomon seal, and fiddlehead ferns.  We found a gloriously arched mossy stump that surely must be a fairy cathedral.

April 29 13 055I came home tired but rejuvenated, and filled with fresh inspiration for a writing problem that has been jostling about in my mind.  Now I can begin writing with clarity and coherence.

If you can’t get out for a hike on this lovely May Day, perhaps you might enjoy reading about nature. I have three recommendations:

Adam Frank (NPR) offers a brief essay called How to Take A Walk in the Woods in which he writes, “Refining our capacity to notice is an act of reverence that we can bring to everywhere and everywhen.”

From the U.S. Forest Service, a new picture book entitled “Why Would Anyone Cut A Tree Down” written by Roberta Burzynski and illustrated by Juliette Watts is available to read online.  Don’t miss Juliette’s beautiful work!  She is a scientific  illustrator with the U.S. Forest Service and has been illustrating professionally for more than 30 years.

And last, get thyself a copy of the incomparable Amy Ludwig VanDerwater’s  lovely poetry book, Forest Has a Song (Clarion, 2013).  Even indoors, the beautiful poems will transport you into woodsy state of mind.


About Cathy Ballou Mealey

Children's book author, repped by Liza Fleissig of the Liza Royce Agency. Wife, mother, daughter, sister, alumna, autism advocate, book reviewer. Reach me via email at cmealey@post.harvard.edu or Twitter @catballoumealey
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38 Responses to Walking Through the Forest

  1. rnewman504 says:

    A walk in the woods (sans Lyme disease–and snakes too!) sounds really wonderful.

  2. Such a lovely post. Didn’t realize you had a little one.

  3. Tina Cho says:

    Fun! We have woods all around us, too. My son is studying plants in science, and so we’ve been investigating lots of trees lately.

  4. Nancy says:

    MY kind of walk! I always bring home “special” rocks, too!

  5. That anonymous 10-year-old needs to write a PB on ticks ASAP!

    As you know, someone has stolen my head lice idea. Don’t allow her to become a victim to intellectual theft, too!

  6. Sue Wang says:

    That’s a fabulous poem by anonymous.Look forward to more. I am inspired to hike some more by your post. Love the description of the floor of the trail and fairy cathedral. Reminds me of Muir Woods in the Bay area. I swear there were spirits among us on that trail, in its green silence.

    Guess what? It’s snowing on May 1 in Boulder, expecting 5-7 inches. Good thing I got in one hike (like my first real one) on Monday, when it was 75 F. 😀

  7. izatrapani1 says:

    What a lovely post, Cathy! I too walk in woods and fields almost every day and it truly is a treat for the senses and the spirit. The occasional tick that crawls onto me is a hardly a deterrent. A good shower afterward and all is well 🙂 I love Grace’s poem. Perfect meter!

  8. Makes me wish we had more woods closer by! I live north of Sue, and so far we’ve got 10″ – and it’s still snowing! We hiked to the dog park and back – the four-legged visitor could not handle any more!

  9. laurimeyers says:

    This isn’t rational, but I feel kind of angry I’m not a fairy and I can’t get married in that tree stump. I want that stump in my yard right now. Thanks for sharing the story too – I have a tree ms, so I’m always on the lookout!

  10. danacarey1 says:

    I really enjoyed this post, Cathy. I’m going to try Anonymous’s anti-tick spell (please thank her) because they scare me too. Reading this brought back lots of memories. Think I’m going to take my adolescent out for a walk tomorrow!

  11. What a gorgeous weekend for a hike, Cathy. We also went out — just to our “local” town park, but it is very woodsy and rocky and big enough when you are seven or four and we only have an hour or two. It was enough time to hunt out two geocaches — very exciting.

    I do try to carry a notebook or at least a piece of paper with me when I’m walking now, just for those moment when I solve a problem or come up with an idea and need to write it down before I forget.

  12. Catherine Johnson says:

    What a lovely post and I adore that stump you found, what a fairytale treat! Do you have May Day off then?

  13. Love the stump!! I walk outdoors any chance I get…which is very often. Most days, I walk twice. I live in here in west Texas…so no mountains, rivers, or woods like when growing up in Colorado. But we live right by a small lake so I see all sorts of lake-loving creatures on my walks. And I get most of my ideas on my walks.
    I think the poem was a perfect way to keep the ticks at bay!

  14. amyludwigvanderwater says:

    That poem made my night! I laughed out loud! We don’t have much in the way of Lyme Disease ’round our parts yet, and I sure hope it doesn’t come. It’s scary! (I think Grace would like NASTY BUGS, edited by Lee Bennett Hopkins – she can read about friends for her tick.) Thank you for the beautiful hike and for the book recommendations – including mine! I am grateful. Happy beautiful spring to you and yours. Today it is 78 near Buffalo, NY…glorious! a.

  15. Hannah Holt says:

    What a great way to celebrate May Day. PS- I think we have that same kiddie hiking pack. 🙂

  16. Joanna says:

    Missed this May-Day post. Walking almost always rejuvenates me.

  17. Pingback: Fern Lifts Leaf, Mind and Body | The Balsamean™

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