Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Wet Woods

I have just returned from a three-day jaunt in Newton, Iowa. I was visiting the Christian Conference Center there as an assistant to my mother, who has been a bit held up by the entire healing-a-broken-foot process. So when I wasn't fetching tea or carrying plates or jackets or blankets about (I had a lot of free time, actually), or spinning, I spent all of an entire day in the woods.

It's a funny thing about Iowa - there aren't many trees in the very center of the state, though there are great hilly regions and even fairly decent forests in all cardinal directions from Des Moines. I love Newton because it's a church camp (I have a very soft spot in my heart for church camp), but also because the grounds, which are beautiful but not expansive, are easy to explore.

I love walking outdoors, hiking through slightly hilly underbrush, spotting the tracks of raccoons, opossums - listening to bullfrogs during their high mating season, croaking all around you. There is nothing quite like hiking in between rainy spells, where the ground is still soft enough to warrant getting out your wellington boots and sinking into watery parts of the earth. I love not knowing if, perhaps, at any moment, the skies will re-open and I will be caught in the middle of a dripping storm, the canopy of new green above me deterring the rain enough to only mist happily on the forest below.

It is high mushroom hunting season, and I saw many fungi on my walk. I have a peculiar admiration for mushrooms. They are such ephemeral beings, really, and only seem to show up when they most feel like it, decorating trees and trimming the edges of moss on fallen logs. In combination with the green light of the woods, they stand out in both color and texture, and I often feel inclined to reach out and touch those that I know aren't poisonous. The tops of toadstools and mushrooms are so often like velvet, one of my favorite fabrics.

If I could have any chair in my house, I would choose one covered in mushroom colored velvet, and I would seat it against a panel of brilliant green, so I could remember these woodland moments all year long.

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