Thursday, June 23, 2005

A walk in the woods

This evening the s.o. suggested we go for a walk in the nearby National Forest. He's looking for a quiet little fishing hole or undiscovered stream bank where he can relax in the evenings and fish for our supper. So we put Gracie the Foster Dog in the car and drove five minutes west.

Along the way, Gracie (who loves to hang her head out the car window) tossed her stuffed bear out onto the road. "Argh," the s.o. said. "We'll get it on our way back."

We turned off at a dirt road near the Shiloh Baptist Church. A short distance down the road, the s.o. pointed at a path and said "Pull in there." And there was the nicest sign I've seen in recent memory:


"Invited"! Isn't that welcoming? I feel as though I should write a thank-you note to the Forest Service for that.

We walked for nearly an hour. The main path didn't end up going anywhere, so for a while we tried an ATV trail that crossed it. We still didn't find a stream or fishing hole, but we saw so many beautiful sights along the way. Hickory nuts dropping from the trees, raccoon tracks in the mud, tiny crawfish in the puddles. The air was still and cool, and the trees towered above us. It was so peaceful and pretty.

When we got back to the dirt road and started driving, we spotted blackberry bushes along the shoulder. We stopped and picked about half a pint, reveling in our good luck.

Back on the main road, the sun was dropping toward the horizon, glowing bright red. Briefly, we pulled off at a different dirt road. We located a disused U.S. Forest Service campground--fodder for a future exploration.

On the way home, it was difficult to locate the stuffed bear. Finally we found it by remembering that it was just east of a dead deer.* I halted the car and the s.o. jumped out to collect Gracie's toy. There were no treadmarks on it, but it was missing its legs.

She didn't mind.


* Yes, I know this sounds like a Jeff Foxworthy joke. "You might be a redneck if you use roadkill as a landmark."