I deeply inhale the earthy smell of dirt as I navigate my way through the Canadian wilderness found in my backyard, where countless acres of pine and maple trees are here for me to discover. Brightly colored leaves crunch underfoot as the cool October breeze tickles my naked arms. Crickets chirp their melodies as the setting sun casts a fiery glow across the clear sky. The wet smell of moss hits me; my feet sink softly in the thick texture of the moss that blankets the forest floor, absorbing my weight like a pillow. I get lost in the temperate paradise that quiets my worries and sparks my brilliant spirit. The maple trees’ bark is rough beneath my fingertips as I trace the worn lines embedded from years of exposure to the seasons. The soothing environment always brings me back throughout the past 16 years of my life; the branches beckon me home.
My feet beat on the uneven ground as my speed quickens; I dart between the trees that scratch at my exposed skin. A smile blooms from ear-to-ear, my momentum hurtling me over fallen trees as critters scatter in alarm at their disturb peace. I chase the retreating sun to no avail. My breath comes out in short rasps, hot on my tongue, as I push my body to its limit; my arms and legs pump rapidly, feeding from the hot adrenaline coursing through my veins. As I reach the embankment of the river I halt, closing my eyes. The sound of rushing water is intoxicating, echoing inside my head, drowning out the thumping of my beating heart. I am at peace in my home.
The air is thick with the hazy twilight mist; I can taste the clean, cool water as it collects on my tongue. The nighttime critters begin to wake from their sleep and prowl the night. Frogs croak restlessly, content on the riverside. Goosebumps rise on my arms as the temperature rapidly drops along with the receding sun. Dozens of stars appear like old friends, diamonds in the clear sky. I settle down, leaning against the trunk of an ancient birch; its lower branches embrace me like a lover. It whispers to me its secrets as I rest, my heart slowing to a steady pump. I can see the footprints in the mud of foxes and deer, revealing a path that another life has followed.
The ground is damp, water moistening the back of my legs and my butt as it absorbs through my worn blue jeans. The water lazily flows, a sweet lullaby. My fingers comb through the long grass, catching on twigs that have fallen from their home in the trees. My tense muscles relax and thoughts quiet as darkness finally envelopes the forest. The only light is cast by the full moon that shines boldly in the black sky. I am entranced by the display, not daring to move and break this illusion of peace and quiet. Worries shed like the bark on a birch tree, peeling away layer by layer to reveal the new pink skin beneath. I lean my head against the hard trunk of the tree, and slip away into my dreams.