The forest, dark and silent and alive, calls to me and begs me to visit. From my porch, I can see the trees on the mountainside, waving and beckoning, drawing me closer if only in my mind. I almost wish I could fly, or move through space in the blink of an eye, in order to be in that place, surrounded by their old and ancient arms; limbs twisting and turning, wrapping around me, holding me, comforting me in a way that only Nature can comfort. To wander the paths up and down the mountains, in and out of groves, around rocks and over streams, utterly alone save for the soft whispers of the wind through their branches and leaves. The ability to sit in silence, receiving their wisdom and their grace through simple meditation, to balance me and bring me back to reality just by breathing in their life and their inspiration. Wandering alone in the forest, with no destination, no goal but to connect once again with the natural world.  
photo: jordan sanchez
She stepped off the bus and adjusted the strap of her messenger bag on her shoulder. She had had to pay the driver extra to take her closer to the entrance of the park, but it had been worth it—not having to take an additional three hours to walk from the interstate into the forest was a blessing.
‘I’m good, thanks!’ She turned and waved at the driver, who tipped his hat and shut the door. He drove on down the dirt road (which, according to her map, turned back on itself and opened onto the interstate three miles away). She was alone, surrounded by silence and the damp air that seemed to breathe with life. Taking a deep breath, she took the first step forward onto a path that led away from the road. Before she moved to far away from the waning light, she checked her map breathed a sigh of relief as she noted that the check in station was only half a mile away from the road.
The trees grew close together near the path, but through the gaps between their trunks she was able to see that they spread out farther into the forest; the setting sun cast eerie shadows over the needle and leaf strewn path, arms and fingers twisting and turning from unseen figures hidden within the trees. She hugged herself, her breath rhythmic in an attempt to calm herself. She always found it funny, how she was terrified of being alone in the forest but always chose to go out to the cabins alone. She couldn’t much stand the company of her peers most days, and being isolated in the woods with a group of them sounded utterly horrific.
The check-in station was a small hut on the left side of the path—beyond it, protected only by a simple wood-plank fence, sat a group of cabins spaced out sporadically.
‘Nella Taylor. I reserved Cabin 6 for the weekend.’ She offered, handing the guard her identification card and reservation receipt. He checked her information against his book and nodded, handing her a key and her information through the small window. She gave him a silent salute and turned back to the entrance to the park.
Three of the ten cabins seemed to be occupied—there were lights on, and some noise from inside, but she didn’t see a single person as she passed the structures. Her cabin, number six, was located at the end of the main path, before it branched off and led deep into the forest to both the east and the west.
Nella unlocked the cabin door and stepped into the single room building—to the left of the door was a bed and a dresser, to the right was a small wood-burning stove, a small water-basin, a single cabinet, and a dining table. It was sparse, but that was part of the charm of the park. It promoted simplistic living in an effort to centre the mind and bring a sense of balance to life. There was no Wi-Fi and spotty cellphone reception, but otherwise the cabins were well prepared for each inhabitant.
Nella set her bag on the dresser next to the bed, then fell back onto the sheets and closed her eyes, breathing in the fresh air that filled the cabin. It was good to be alone, to be in silence; she felt at peace, and at home, within the forest.  


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