A Forest Walk by Deb Wandler


I was invited on a forest walk, 

a slow, mindful walk, 

pausing to look, really look, 

at the canopies of pines,

cedars and aspen,

down at the low-lying milkweed, 

leaves turned yellow,

the variety of mushrooms

growing in waves on the ground 

beneath it all.

I sat on the forest floor, eyes closed,

breathing in the rich, earthy humus.

I listened for sounds –

the trill of the red breasted nuthatches,

ravens calling to each other,

the chirp of a squirrel,

the whisper of leaves.

With my hands lifted, 

fingers waving, 

I felt in that moment the trees wave 

and sway with me.

Nestling against the rough, 

deeply grooved bark 

of a ponderosa pine

I felt the presence of her roots

moving deep

beneath the earth.

Later, sitting on logs 

in a circle, 

a cup of tea in my hands,

I was unable to articulate 

what I had experienced, 

how I felt –

how everything was changed.

That evening, 

I noticed a clarity, 

an awakening within me –

a deepening presence.

The depression that had been 

hanging over me for days,

the sadness, the grief – gone.

My breathing was deeper.

Sensing what was the forest floor 

beneath my feet,

my walk across the room

quieter, gentler.

About the Artist

Deb is a retired social work educator, having spent the last twenty years of her career teaching at Selkirk College. Some thirty years ago a psychic told her that writing wouldn’t come fully into her life until she reached her sixties. And here she is with a daily writing practice that has carried her through these past couple of pandemic ridden years, and almost half way through her second CWRT course. When she is not writing she enjoys walking local trails, conversing with her adult children and young grandson, and planning travel adventures with her husband. Deb was introduced to forest walking by her friend Forest Therapy Guide and Registered Professional Forester Carol Andrews.

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