“Between every two pines is a doorway to a new world.” – John Muir (1838-1914)
We’ve had several posts on the glorious nature of Maine this month. As I’m posting near the end, I wanted to talk about how nature gives me inspiration.
Authors are often asked where they get their ideas. The question gives me a silent chuckle and reminds my sixth-grade class when our teacher asked each of us to use a word in a sentence. She gave one boy, a known prankster, the word “clues”. He stood (we were very respectful in those days) and said, “I keep my clues in the clues closet.” The class dissolved in laughter. Would it surprise you to know we are still in touch?
There are days when I wish I had an inspiration closet. Unfortunately, no such animal exists in my arsenal. What I have are the woods. A quarter mile hike through my backyard to the trailhead and I’m in a different world. A world of magic and wonder. We maintain one old logging road. Older roads, overgrown and mystical, shoot off in various directions. Even the main trail, well-trod though it is. holds surprises.
In the old days, people buried their garbage. Excavating odd humps under trees or in small clearings have yielded a treasure trove of old medicine bottles, tin tobacco cans, bits of jewelry, and cookery. A glimpse into life the way live was lived in the 1920s. More than one thick bottle has sported a skull and crossbones etched in the glass. Several of these discoveries have spawned short stories. Clues buried in the trash. Cold cases solved.
Beyond the trailhead, the woods darken and the air cools. Sounds unfamiliar to the open meadows fill the air. Bird calls echo, woodpeckers bang out their distinctive tattoo, and moose bellow. Mushrooms shine like brass knobs. The creak and scream of limb against limb in the wind sounds almost human. Walking through the woods requires full attention. Whatever occupied my mind before I entered is purged in favor of heightened senses. The pinks of ladies’ slippers peek beneath tree trunks stand out, forget-me-nots bloom like a blue carpet, and hobblebush shows off its delicate white flowers. Spiders weave dew sparkled webs between branches. Eagle nests fill the tops of pines, so does the occasional bear cub. The acid scent of pines and the sweet scent of apple blossom mingle into an intoxicating brew. The mind catalogues all of this effortlessly.
Sometimes, I mount the ladder to the old tree stand, notebook in hand, and record sights, sounds, and snippets of thoughts. The woods are never stagnant. My camera is my constant companion. Time passes in a heartbeat. At the end of the hike, I’m refreshed, and inevitably discover that the woods worked its magic. The doorway between the pines has opened. Inspiration is my reward.
Do you have a favorite place that inspires you?