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Barefoot In The Woods

by Joyce Johnson

Into the woods – First, the mere thought of being in the real woods, makes me feel calm, and at home, and I exhale in relief from things. When I am in the woods or boots down, many times up Pine Creek here in the Valley, I have this feeling that I am much taller. You too? Also, I have my camera out on our trails with me, to “hunt” and frame nature’s art in real pictures instead of word pictures.

Once, wanting to be really connected I walked the path to Pine Creek Falls barefoot, um... slowly, and it became an exercise of being in the Now; tangibly grounding of course. But I was half way up the path barefoot that day when I heard the clomp of many hiking boots behind me and jumped onto a big rock beside the path. I smiled at the line of young men marching noisily by, their minds on the destination; they didn’t acknowledge me, except the guy at the end of the line glanced at my feet, stopped, saluted, and marched on.

Usually, us older and or multi-job working locals only have time to go to the woods in our minds, or with awe and gratitude need only look out the window to the mountains, specially during Montana’s hefty winters, starting about now. I suit up and walk in the winter too. It’s peaceful, oxygenating,...but suspenseful if ice hides under the snow. [Take a walking stick.] But as for mental walks in the woods, I wonder if people still do Guided Meditations. I remember this one well: The teacher slowly led us in a story which we pictured ourselves in. She said, and I shorten it here: “Close your eyes. See a path leading across a field of wildflowers to a cottage on a hill. Now take the path though the field and go inside and find a long hall with a door marked Fear at the end. You may open it.” [Gulp.] In my mind, I saw myself as a child tiptoeing timidly down the long hall and pausing before the door. I opened it a crack expecting to see the dark closet where I used to sleepwalk into when little, and cry “Mommy!”when I woke in the pitch black. I peaked into the fear room (in my imagination)... then threw the door open! Inside was a vast, lush green scene of hills, and woods and a singing creek and birdsong all so serene and beautiful! I gasped. Guided meditations are fun, calming without meds, and sometimes have magical messages.

Into the Stream – It’s always fun to chat with fellow writers. I met one at a recent craft show. She mentioned Stream of consciousness writing, which is different from the journalist/reporter’s integral directive to tell “who-what-why-where-when.” I felt a blush because I am a “stream...of whatever...writer,” tossing in a token fact now and then to sound smart, is all. And I confess I unintentionally hope to take hostages...[you], in my butterfly net of words, but my intentions are pure. I am is all, or… bare-soled, and I confess I do sneakily plot to catch you in my net to carry you off to another reality with me, a rescue of sorts. For instance, like climb in your mind up into the local, great, old willow tree with me, and look safely down on things from its high, secret hiding place; at present, in the bare, brown, tangled branches of his living winter body. So strong and tough are his limbs, yet, stripped of his outer persona he proudly has some granddad vibe. I try to remember to stop, greet and hug the big old Willow when I walk by—first looking around to see if I am alone. One day I heard a laugh; someone in the “hood” saw me hugging a big pine tree—from a couple inches away. I remembered to pinch those needles and inhale the purifying scent of pine. Go outside and find your own Grandpa/Grandma tree whom you can put your arms around; rest your heart against the trunk, and he will remove your stress if asked. You can chat with trees if you are in touch with the child in you. And even rocks:

Artful Rocks -I picked up a flat smooth rock a few weeks ago and decided to paint something on it. I started with a tiger portrait because there are lots of stripes and fur in which to hide goofs. But wow was I surprised! Rock painting is also a meditation! I listen to soothing hertz music to help set my mood deeply onto the right side of my brain where the free flow and inspiration seems to live. The subject matter to paint on rocks is endless. The painted rock needs no frame; doesn’t have to go behind glass or...hang on the wall. Could go on the floor as a door-stop, or lean fondly up against a potted plant. [I will carry small painted inspirational rocks in my purse to give away on the spot, a fun suggestion by a friend.] I bought some little brass easels to stand the larger rocks up on, especially the portrait rocks of famous people. What a statement that became, as though the ordinary rock said, “Alas I am celebrated! Touch and hold me. I have recorded stories inside. I will share a secret: We are deathless, transformed or reduced to our essence over the centuries into ground up quartz, gems, gold and minerals, the calcium of surf-pounded ground shells; all of which come to rest eventually on the beach, in sun-warmed, seriously comforting sand, whose goodness is absorbed as you walk...bare-soled, of course,”... (See image of sand magnified 300 times.) Visit for a walking meditation into the woods.


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