Tuesday, July 17, 2012

North Woods

There's a stillness in the woods that you can't find on any mediation retreat. Walking along a  quiet path the trees stretch up into the sky and embrace you in their canopy.

You'd hardly guess today that the North Woods of Michigan were logged off more than 100 years ago by Maine investors looking to grow their riches out West. After the lumber barons were gone and the lands logged clear, little was done in the way of reforestation.

Eventually maples grew up and white pine. You'll also find random groves of red pine evenly spaced like soldiers in their rows. These trees were planted in the 30's by the Civilian Conservation Corp, bringing jobs to this impoverished region as part of President Roosevelt's New Deal.

The economy of this region has never been reliably strong. There's a local saying, "View of the bay, half of the pay." The farm houses and back-road single wides have changed little over the past 50 years, except for the relatively recent addition of indoor plumbing. Yet the poor economy has been a boon to slowing the development of one of the nations most beautiful regions and leaving quiet forests untouched.

Ironically, it's easy in the North Woods to sit on the lake shore all day long when summer finally arrives, never venturing into the forest. But on grey days when the North wind blows, a hike deep the woods is a welcomed outing. Good for the mind and strengthening the body.

Today I stopped on my hike for a long while and listened to the sound of the wind in the tree tops. Drinking in the lush green surroundings, for one precious moment, I sat alone, in the presence of the woods.