The Forest of the Past

When you get so busy in your life that you forget what is right in your backyard, you need to take the time out to reevaluate what you are doing with your life.

It was a dark night, the darkest night in weeks, and it had been a rough day. I was dressed in boots and khaki cargo pants, a back long sleeve shirt and a beanie. We could all feel winter was fast approaching, the nip in the air told us it had snowed on the mountains already.
As I grabbed my gear, my mind chewed over the events of the day. From the break in, to the admin, from grouchy clients, to bills needing payment. I was exhausted, There was much to do tomorrow, and it was already dark outside, but there were horses to find. So with a torch, a pocket knife and a halter I went in search of a dark horse on a dark night.

The mind plays tricks with your when you are alone at night, especially if your day has been stressed. Searching through the overgrown forest that used to be my childhood playground and coming across the eerie remains of an old treehouse I never finished building ten years ago brought back a flood of memories. Now my days are filled with glamorous people and high tech gadgets. I spend my days behind a screen, or wearing a dress and heels and teaching people. But I used to spend my days as a barefoot kid in shorts, up a tree with a pocket knife carving wooden sculptures. Messy hair and dirt across my face as I taunted city boys for being unfit.

I carry on walking through the forest, wondering why the trees all look so big and intimidating in the little light filtering through the leaves from the crescent moon. A crack of branches and I spin around, just to see the little black dog who is always at my heels wherever I go, dart off chasing a creature of the night, perhaps it was a mongoose or an owl disappearing into the dark.

An hour in and still no sign of the dark horse I seek, at least I know I’m still not far from home, and it comforts me to know relatively well that the pathways still are the same as they were 5 years ago when I truly knew this forest. Back to the time I spent every day here. But at the same time, much brush has grown between the trees, and last year’s drought has killed many of the tall evergreen pines. The stately old gumtree, alone in the forest of pines has died too and looks ready to fall. A chill runs down my spine as I realize my carefree childhood is forever in my past, or maybe  it’s just from the cool night air that bites at my nose.

I’m walking so gently, so softly now that my own footsteps cannot be heard, the dog is back at my heels, recognizing the stealthy mode now and also walking carefully. And then I hear it, the crackling, the biting, the chewing of bushes that signals the sound of a herbivore. It’s time now to turn on my torch, and there just a few meters away stands the giant horse, as dark as midnight in a forest of my past.

I return with horse in tow back to the stables to feed him and work with him, and tomorrow I will be back to the daily routine. But the thoughts of the forest are echoing through my mind and I contemplate just for a day running away from responsibility to go back to becoming a child of the forest.

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