We were in Sandpoint, Idaho last week-end for Don’s cyclocross races. What a beautiful Fall drive it is to the western edge of our state, skirting the Canadian border, into Idaho’s panhandle. During these racing excursions, I have time alone to wander around, find a running trail, take some photos. There were oak trees in this park and I gathered up a bunch of big acorns to take home–just to look at, as oak trees are so unusual in this neck of the woods. And, they reminded me of the most magnificent forest of oaks in London, Queen’s Wood. Right in the middle of everything, in north London, this is an ancient woodland of English oaks, the remains of the original forest which covered all of Britain 5,000 years ago.
Valerie lived nearby, and we would walk by the entrance into Queen’s Wood most everywhere we went, and sometimes, on a lazy Saturday, the whole family would wander into the woods, on the dirt trails, look far up to the sky, through giant interlacing branches, and wander up and down hills and ravines, jump over tiny streams, holding on to long tough vines. We were Christopher Robin and friends in the 100 acre wood. In October, the big oak leaves rustled and rubbed together, and branches creaked and moaned. I wonder if anyone went in there after dark.
Back here at home, the weather pattern has truly changed. The lawn is covered with yellow and red leaves, and every time there’s a skiff of breeze, more float and twist their way down to the ground. It’s been misty and dark in the mornings. Our road to the highway is closed this week, as the electric company replaces all the tall utility poles. They are complaining about how long it’s taking to dig holes, deep into pure bedrock, here at the border of the lakebed. Our neighbors to the north have closed up their house, and moved to their winter home in Georgia, but they told us we could park our cars there, and use their road to access the highway. Fortunately, as this project feels likely to be weeks in the making. We’ve been told that after 9am this morning, we won’t have any power until late in the day. So, in these misty dark mornings, I must walk a short distance through the woods which separate our houses, so I can make my yoga class in town. Our house is always in view, but there is new bear scat everywhere, a four-point buck yesterday, and the crows always make their warning calls, as I crunch across fallen leaves and branches. Even in this small patch of tall pines, purple Oregon grapes, and golden Birch leaves, I know I am a guest in the woods. I tread carefully.