I took Baxter for a walk in the woods this weekend. Across the street from my grandparents’ house were a pair of cranberry bogs fronting Harwich conservation land, and on holidays we’d bundle up after the meal and go for a long wander, a huge mix of people and dogs and kids. And of course, there are a million other times I walked them, with my friends, with my dog, with myself. And I guess that kind of imprints itself on you. We won’t be in those woods this year, and that’s not my grandparents’ house anymore, but I wasn’t as sad as I thought I would be, walking under the familiar trees. They’re still mine. I still know the paths and turns and views and sounds and the feel of the dead leaves and thick mulch. I love the other walkers and the dogs that come rocketing up and down the path, happy as … um, dogs. The big wood bridge that goes over the marsh and river. The little wood bridge that goes over the run. The smell of fresh water & the smell of trees and dying leaves and really cold air. The herons that stalk the shallows. Fragamites choking out the marsh grass but looking lovely as borders to the road. The herring that spawn and die in the run, the swans on the lake.
I need to live near the ocean so that I can feel it and see it and hear it. But I guess I forgot how much the woods mean to me, and how much walking them makes me feel like I’m all my ages at once. I felt so peaceful when I got home.
It’s nearly Thanksgiving, and if you had told me this summer that I’d be looking at this holiday with more thankfulness in my heart than I ever have before, ever, I would have laughed at you. It’s the things that seem big at the time phenomenon — I couldn’t conceive of a time when things would feel better. I wasn’t sure they ever would, even a month ago, even two weeks ago. But oh my god, I’m SO thankful. And I’ll be with my family on Thursday, and I’ll get to hug my nephew who is a million reasons to be thankful all by himself. And then all weekend we’ll be cozy and warm, against the cold outdoors, with fires in the wood stove and fireplace, a snoozing dog, movie nights, games — wholesome fun that I didn’t think we could have anymore. And a burden lifted.
I haven’t stopped fretting yet, because it takes a while for that to go away. But the fretting is less, and all of a sudden my brain has time to think about other things, to devote energy to other things. And I’m really very grateful for that too, because I feel more like myself. I’ve been worried for years — first my grandmother, and then the latest crisis which has been happening for so long that I didn’t even realize. Years of worry, and they’re slowly starting to melt away.