As one of my English 101 assignments, I was asked to write an essay about a favorite childhood memory. This, of course, was a hard assignment since I have so many, but I finally chose to write about the exciting woods that surround our cabin in Alaska. For simplicity's sake, I wrote it about me and my brother (singular), but the truth is that I have a lot of awesome memories with both my sister and all my brothers.
The Forest Glades
It was a still winter day. Snow blanketed the ground and the trees stood in lofty contrast to the burnt logs lying across the forest floor. A rabbit hopped nonchalantly across a little path in the woods, then stopped and looked back as two boys came running through the forest. It leapt out of the way as the boys, my brother and I, rushed past, headed for a favorite childhood haunt. Nothing was as full of creativity, imagination, courage and adventure as was our final destination: the forest glades.
We would often go there to test out the best of our creative faculties. I remember one time when we created a whole phone line system out of paper cups and strings. We had “miles” of string strung throughout the trees, complex with circuitry and string connections, with the farthest cups being far enough apart so as not to be connected via audible communication. However, they seemed to suffer from an unfortunate power outage and were quite dead, which is why we then resorted back to our two-way radios.
As far as we were concerned, the woods were a place for our imaginations to run wild. We would pretend we were adventurers, or soldiers, or explorers. The forest was our limit, nay, beyond the forest lay miles of field beckoning our imaginations to push even further past the limit of possibilities. We were in charge of a mini universe. At one point we built Teepees out of logs and tarps and set up camp. We then fended off wild settlers and lived off the land as far as was convenient for a half hour, until we got hungry. It took courage, but we were men enough for the task and only considered being scared once or twice.
However nothing would scare us as much as being out in the woods alone, yet the thrill of doing the unthinkable was sometimes too strong. I would often wander into the vast unknown expanses of the creaky, creepy woods. Behind every tree lurked a wild animal; behind every branch there was the possibility for losing the view of my house and familiar landmarks; beyond the canopy of leaves above, the sun was waiting for a chance to hide and leave me in darkness to find my way home alone; behind everything were the sounds of trees snapping and branches creaking in a grand attempt at scaring the life out of a soul. And yet we would enter, sometimes for the thrill of it, sometimes out of necessity, sometimes because we were playing hide and seek and the only way to hide was to disappear into the forest. Then when night came and we were snugly tucked into bed, the swirling view of carnivorous wolves, wild moose and growling bears would start to fill us with fresh terror of the outside world. But when morning came and the sun shone brightly on the forest outside, our fears would vanish like nightmares and with great courage we would sally forth for more adventures in the woods.
The woods was a place always filled with adventure. We would often dare to pass our comfort limits amongst the forest aura. I remember one cold winter day we spent the afternoon building an “emergency” shelter out of pine trees and branches. In front of the shelter we built a blazing fire, ate some marshmallows and drank hot cider, and then crawled snugly into our sleeping bags enshrouded by our makeshift shelter. It got cold that night but we didn’t care. We kept the fire going and just endured the cold – it was all part of the adventure.
As far as I’m concerned, the childhood haunt which holds the most wonder and excitement was the woods surrounding our house. Whenever we were bored (or were we?), we would head to the woods to find adventure and something to do. We could always count on finding a place where creativity was envisaged and realized. The imagination was always free, as an eagle majestically sifting here and there, never held back but always gaining new heights. Courage was strengthened and developed. Adventure ran high. It was a place of awakening, forming character traits that have stayed with me and will continue to do so throughout the rest of my life.