The back of my woods seems like a safe place to write. Had I artistic intentions as a adolescent this is where I would have wrote. I should make up for lost time. I used to read out here. I once ran neck first into a newly installed electric fence because King Arthur’s journeys were so enthralling. The tree I sit in now was the homebase of my reading adventures. I had built ladders up to branches of the tree. By “I” I mean Alf, my mother’s father, Morfar. By ladders I mean that on one side is a series of skinny tree trunks nailed together to look like set dressing for a movie about gnomes. Hanging from the other side is a rope and two by four creation that could easily act as a 4th grade science project explaining the pulley in an interesting way for fellow classmates of the wilderness academy. The project would have gotten a C+.
This tree became a key point in my detour walk created in defiance of the concept of paths. This detour was not created by me, but co-opted by me in a self deprecation act of declaring equality to animals. An act that correlates to deer droppings lining the path in front of me as I mount the gnome ladder.
It’s an animal trail and it sucks, but it meets up with the real trail, surrendering its usefulness to an overgrown fern path surrounded by a thicket of maple, birch, and cedar all on the verge of death. I’m walking down the hallway of a retirement community for poor trees, but upon collapse they serve nicely as bridges that might be accidental. I know they were stacked next to each other over boggy areas as protection for a traveler’s feet, but without that knowledge, an outside viewer might question the concept of coincidence as these fallen trees seem to create a perfect path across moss. How beautiful is nature that even the members of its collective who’s life ceases to exist maintain their worthwhileness? An ignorant but well meaning wilderness wanderer would remark at the sight of these purposely placed bridge-trees. In front of me is the environment of discovery, centered around what looks like a the ruins of a sad native tribe, one who consisted on berries and their salamander recipe known only to he four archaeologists who studied these people and the twenty annoyed friends who had to bear through stories of the ingenuity of the extinct tribe whenever salamanders were brought up in conversation. Luckily that was rarely.¹
I know this to be my 7 year old version’s attempt at a fort. My mom probably helped me build it. She’s from a tribe of Swedes whose ingenious methods of putting wood together comes from a poverty induced lack of childhood toys and a rural induced plethora of childhood trees. The roof has caved in, in what would sprained the ankle of one of its three inhabitant if this truly were an archaeological discovery that I was in the midst of.
The scream was not blood curdling, but it was the type of scream that you wouldn’t put in your blood because just by smell you could tell it might curdle. It was the type of scream you’d only use if it were too late to buy other screams and you only had beer and blood cereal in the house and it was just not the type of blood cereal that you ate dry.
The scream was because of a frog. The frog had leapt into my path, and then out of my path. A path that I had considered too mainstream as a 10 year old and had to create a detour homed a frog.
In Brooklyn, the home I now call home a man walked across 4th ave into the establishment at which I barista. I barista because I’ve baristad – a past tense verb that does not imply that I know how to spell the correct past tense verb to describe my former and current employment. The man was spewing both in literal act and in reference to the vitriol with which a racist diatribe came out of his mouth. Also possibly in reference to the way in which he attempted to pay for a small coffee with an assortment of change from his pocket. He was $0.15 short, but the $0.15 was a small price to pay to help a man full of spew get on with his day and life and therefore get out of my day and life as quickly as possible. I didn’t scream.