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#6. I took a walk in the woods...and came out taller than the trees. - Henry David Thoreau

Molly and I did something different today.

I took a vacation day at work so that I could take care of some personal business. I had hoped by this time that I'd be blogging about our approved house plans...or breaking ground for our foundation...but we are not there yet. There's so much to do. That's okay.

In the late afternoon, we headed up the mountain to our property. For a little while, we sat on Mr. TBG’s beautiful rock wall, soaked up the sunshine, and watched the cars drive by on the highway. We can now see each and every driver…it’s weirdly-fun people-watching!

Next, we visited with a friend who is helping us think through some SNAFUs that we are encountering with the building process. (I could blog about this for hours but will spare you…let’s just say it’s been a tad stressful around here lately...and the "f" in "snafu" stands for exactly what you think it stands for!)

And then we finally decided that were going to do it...because we needed it. Very badly.

I’m going to blame it on Molly….can’t you see the way she is looking up the mountain with such longing? I couldn’t disappoint her! :)

Okay, it was actually my idea. I broke the rules...headed up the mountain behind our property...crossed the forest boundary...and Molly followed me. If you aren't local, you probably don't know: the forest is closed right now and for good reasons. We hear that it will be open again in 2017.

I'm sorry I broke the rules, but I just couldn’t wait any longer. My daily hikes in Boggs for the last 20 years were my sanity, and Mr. TBG will be the first to tell you that he would do anything… anything…. to make sure that I walked among those trees every day. Quite frankly, I was not a nice person when I missed a day or two (so you can imagine how I am right now, since it has been six long months). I could tell for the past week or so that I was getting close to a breaking point. I think that's a pretty good excuse? It's better for the rest of the human race to keep me sane and nice, right?'s what it used to look like. This is a pic of one of my favorite spots in Boggs Forest. I took this 46 weeks ago - last Spring. Can't you see how standing here would make you feel like you could accomplish anything? Especially at the end of a long work day?

Anyway, Molly and I turned our back to the highway drivers, shunned the rules, and headed straight up the mountain. I’m so glad that Mr. TBG made me buy replacement walking sticks a few months ago. I haven’t used them much because people look at me funny if I walk with sticks on the paved neighborhood streets by our time, I actually had someone ask me if they were ski poles and if I was practicing for the snow! Today, I wouldn’t have made it without them. It's even steeper than it looks.

The ground sounded a bit different than it used to. It crunched more. My poles sank in (just like they would in snow). But don't you love those little bits of green? Those are the forest ferns. I am confident that they will grow to look the same as they did last year. Here is a picture of them taken 38 weeks ago...they bordered the stairway up to our house...aren't they gorgeous? They were waist-high!

We came across some beautiful wildflowers on our journey (anyone know what these are?)…

…and we found some other treasures. I bet you are wondering if I took this junky old bottle home with me? Of course I did! I already have a project in mind for the new house! Never mind that some teenager was probably drinking out of it last year!

We ran into a mushroom hunter and his dog (both shall remain unnamed, since we were all breaking the rules). This was good for Molly; she is rediscovering the old adage "love one another", and learning to put her trust in those she does not know. There, in the forest, I could tell she was home. She did not fear anyone or anything, and she and the other dog got to know each other quickly and then ran off and played. The mushroom hunter was tip toe-ing around looking for morels - he wanted a few for his pizza that night. Apparently, this should be a stellar year for morels. He told me that the fire releases the spores, and there is only one season of fire-morel abundance; the season right after the fire. I looked, too, and didn't find any...but you can click here to see what a fire morel looks like.

They're actually edible, unlike the mushrooms that CAG found growing in our rental carpet (which have not returned since the rains have stopped, thankfully! I told you it's been crazy around here!!! S.N.A.F.U.). Here's a picture of those...ewwww.

We also caught a bird’s-eye view of a new home build…look closely, and you can see it right there in the middle. <3

We saw several big holes, like this. I stood over them and tried to fill those voids with love...

Here and there, we saw something much unexpected - pinecones. How did they survive? I was happy I was wearing my sugar pine necklace...

And for a long time, we just stood quietly and took in the beauty of it all. Well, that's what I did. Molly was running around like a maniac peeing on everything. This is her forest, after least in her mind. I was happy to see her joy.

We didn't go far into the forest...I didn't want to really break the rules, if you know what I mean. We stayed close, on the ridge above our property, and when I stood there and looked at the trees I remembered what it used to be like. It's hard to believe that there used to be so many green, lush trees that we were able to cut one every year for our Christmas tree. We actually had to cut the trees on our property, because they were so close to the house it was dangerous.

Here's JAG at Christmastime last year. It was the first year (and now the last) that Mr. TBG let JAG and CAG cut the tree by themselves. I think that smile says it all. I'm so glad I have this photo.

Molly and I had such a great time on our hike that we didn't want to leave...but the time finally came. On our return, we saw something that impacted me more than anything has in a very, very long time.

I looked at it from one side...

...and then the other side...

...and I kept on looking. This was battered to almost nothing. Its middle section was nearly gone. There were sections where I could see right through to the other side. Every little bit had been scarred. It didn't even look like a tree anymore.

I stood there, I was looking in a mirror...and thinking: how does it keep reaching toward the sky?

This tree…it is hard to explain, but it looked so strong in the most fragile sort of way. It looked so beautiful in the most amazing sort of way. It was surrounded by other trees that had also been battered, some worse than others. Some probably before the fire. Some by things other than the fire. All battered...all standing tall.

We left and I turned back once more... looking... thinking...

I will stand, just like this tree.

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