On the weekends, I lose myself in the woods.
I take a basket with me. Often it will carry a couple empty jars, a bottle of water, a set of shears, and a sandwich or two. In the autumn I bring an empty notebook to stick pretty leaves between its pages for safekeeping.
I like to set out early, just before the morning dew dissipates. I listen for songbirds as I walk and try to mimic their calls. There is something immensely satisfying about being mistaken for a bird. Especially by a bird.
It gives wings to my thoughts and a lightness to my step.
Some days I find a nice place to sit and I look at every little thing around me. I listen to every little sound. Feel every breath of wind. On those days I often leave the woods with a lightweight basket, holding empty jars and an empty sandwich bag. My thoughts feeling calm and my heart full.
Some days I can’t help but pick up anything that catches my eye, and I will leave the woods with plants sticking out of my jars, moss or acorns or mushrooms in my basket, and pretty rocks in my pockets. On those days I will come home with eager hands and a mind spilling over with ideas.
On my weekend evenings, I return home and empty my basket. My house is full of broken things healing, lost things found, and lovely things gathered.
In my kitchen there are sprigs of ivy sitting in a shallow bowl of water. I collected them at a wedding after the bride’s bouquet had been thrown and they had scattered across the floor. When they take root, I will plant them in pots and find them good homes.
My living room is lined with jars that hold branches and twigs I’d found hanging broken from their limbs. Red bud, pussy willow, oak, maple, dogwood . . . with patience and care, they all have the chance of taking root and starting again. Already, I have young trees behind my house that were once broken from harsh winds or heavy storms.
My fridge has a shelf of acorns waiting in the folds of damp paper towels in sandwich bags, and I have to hold myself back from gathering them or they’ll start taking over. I watch them, planting the ones that sprout.
Hundreds of flowers grow in front of my house, gathered as seeds or through transplanting, becoming a colorful home for honeybees and butterflies. I guard them ferociously, weeding whenever I have a moment to spare and watering when the rain forgets to stop by.
Other days of the week, I am gone at work or meeting with friends or running errands. Other days of the week, I am chasing my life and working hard.
But on the weekends, I lose myself in the woods.
I look for broken things that need healing, for lost things that wish to be found, for beautiful things that love to be gathered.
And I bring them home with me.