Several months ago, my husband and I were in Fauntleroy Park, which is the closest woods near our house. As we walked down the path, he joked, “Oh scary! Someone could jump out of the bushes at us!” The comment hit me in all of the wrong ways, though this had nothing to do with him. I said to him, only half jokingly,”You’ve ruined my sanctuary!”

I have done a lot of grieving and healing in those particular woods. I have felt my heart rate lower and my spirits lift as I walk into the entrance. I have listened to the creeks, the birds, and the sounds of the rain and wind. I found a hummingbird nest in those woods and waited for the egg to hatch into a chick, whom I discovered had not made it, when I visited the woods last Mother’s Day. As I am often the only one in the park, those woods were a safe place to sit by the trees and the running water, and have a good cry. I have felt the reassuring softness of feathery mosses, watched the emergence of new growth from the forest floor, and sampled berries from bushes that connected me to my childhood, learning about native edibles from my mother, while walking in the woods that surrounded the home in which my parents still live. I have had experiences in those woods, seeing new growth, old growth, and decay, and felt connected to the worlds of living, dying, and dead at a deep spiritual level.

I had avoided going to those woods since the loss of the hummingbird chick and my husband’s ill timed remark. I would never have predicted that I would react that way but it did. Today, as I was ambling through my neighborhood on my daily walk, I decided to get back into the woods. I was greeted with the sound of running water, birds that sounded like they were auditioning for a part in The Jungle Book, the smell of skunk cabbage, and the deep pink of salmon berry blossoms. I saw two hummingbirds. I visited the spot where the hummingbird nest had been last year. It was gone, either blown off by the wind or removed by a hiker.

This week’s stressful mammogram generated another thread of fear, sadness, and gratitude to weave into my life. I am glad to be back in the woods.