Walking in Woods. Clueless.


2:30 am.
We’re back on the front seat of the insomnia bus.
Unfinished business from work is clanking around.
No. Don’t get up. Not yet. Keep your eyes shut.
It’s dark. It’s quiet. I listen through my eyelids.
The North winds whistle, and freezing air leaks through the window sills.
It’s cold. I pull the comforter up.  Zeke, at my feet, stirs.

It keeps coming back.
It’s mid-December.  A late Saturday afternoon.  Overcast.  Rain is threatening.  I grab the leash, call for Zeke and we walk.

Baker Park is a small suburban park, a brisk ten minute walk.  It’s adorned with a half-sized aluminum backstop, grassy fields and a small playground.  A wooded area rings the back end with paths carved by the Boy Scouts in a summer project.

Zeke bounds ahead, his feet stirring the leaves that layer the earth.

I pass the first. It’s a glance.
I pass the second. It has my attention.
I pass the third. I slow my pace.
I pass the fourth. I’m troubled now.
I approach the fifth. I stop. Don’t you dare move to the 6th.

You are a Canadian.
Your flag is a Maple Leaf.
The Cascades towered over your head.
How many countless hours did you spend walking in and around and up the mountainsides?

I turn and go back to the first tree, each tree is labelled with a description.

“Norway Maple. Acer plantanoides.  A shade tree that can grow to 60 feet tall.”

I move to #2.

“TulipTree. Liriodendron tulipifera. A straight tall tree named for its spring flowers that resemble tulips or lilies.”

I move to #3.

“Black Oak. Quercus Velutina. A common oak valuable for its high grade wood. Many animals consume its acorns.”

I move to #4.

“American Beech.  Fagus Grandifolia. Beechnuts are important food for many birds and animals.”

I move to #5.

“Red Oak. Quercus Rubra. A smorgasbord for insects and birds. Over 400 species of butterflies and moths feed on the trees making it one of the best food sources in the American forest.”

I move to #6, the last tree on a short path.

“Red Maple. Acer Rubrum. Known for its brilliant red color.”

I stop.  Zeke circles back and sits beside me. I look up.  The trees tower overhead.  The few remaining leaves rustle in the wind.  Wow. You, a Canadian. Man who has walked the woods. You’re no Thoreau, but really? 

Several weeks pass.

“Susan, next time you take Zeke on your walk through Baker Park, would you mind taking a picture of one of the labels on the trees?”

“OK.  I am surprised you noticed. They’ve been there for years.”

They’ve been there for years.
I couldn’t name a single tree.
But, go ahead.
Do it.  
Ask me where I stand in my email cue or any detail on any project at work.
Do it.

Red Oak Tree


  • Photo Credits:  1) National Geographic photo titled “Enlightenment“. Photograph by Aurora Simionescu.  Photographing autumn foliage in Kyoto, Japan, Your Shot community member Aurora Simionescu came upon these illuminated paper umbrellas in a stand of bamboo trees at Kodaiji Temple. 2) Thank you Susan for the Baker Park tree shot.
  • Related Posts: Running Series.


  1. we focus on what we want to see.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Isn’t the saying, “Sometimes we miss the forest for the trees”?

    Liked by 4 people

  3. Sometimes we miss both the forest and the trees. Too bad.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. A walk in the woods always seems to uncover new treasures even if we’ve been there many times before – it’s a wonder of nature unfolding!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I’m the same way with trees, and flowers as well. I just call them by their color…

    Liked by 1 person

  6. The Oak is my favorite, tree…In my neighborhood there are many varieties of Oaks…One a Majestic White Oak lives on an incline, next the Douglas Firs and in the spring Calypso Orchids and purple Wild Iris bloom…feeding off of the nutrients of the forest floor…Dave, keep your pace slow listen to the quiet peace, at times graced by the sounds of nature’s life, breath deep, throw your arms up in appreciation of what your precious eye sight sees…a person’s Souls needs the connection to walking on the natural, grounding earth…these songs and there are more speak to being outside….America’s, “Walk in the Woods” https://youtu.be/xFRnIY9gO7E Three Dog Night’s, “Out In the Country” https://youtu.be/fZ1tF6LgB40 and Jessie Collin Young’s, beautiful song, “Sunlight” https://youtu.be/_paNk1V7Up8


  7. Not surprised…it happens to many who miss seeing trumpet lamps as well (it was a trumpet lamp, right?). 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  8. That Japanese forest is beautiful.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. David, you know the stars have names too.
    Makes me think of something I thought I had lifted it here. But quick search doesnt show that you’ve used it. I probably gt it at Whiskey River. Rebecca Solnit, she says “The stars we are given. The constellations we make. That is to say, stars exist in the cosmos, but constellations are the imaginary lines we draw between them, the readings we give the sky, the stories we tell.”
    I’ve been getting a lot of mileage out of that for a month or two, even used it in a little thing I wrote that no matter how hard I try, Blogger seems to have it chopped up to were I cant fix the spacing.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Maybe we see things when the time is right, when it’s time that we see it. Perhaps it means more when we see it later or differently or on a different time line than ‘everyone else’?

    Liked by 1 person

  11. At least your insomnia found something other than work to latch onto. Brains are so weird.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. That was interesting, David. I so get it, but if you really want to see the trees, you will. I think I’ve turned that corner now.

    Liked by 1 person

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