Forest Children

 
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I am not a child of the forest. Yet, this weekend, I convinced myself I was.

Something in the woodsy air ignited the blood flowing through my veins. The aliveness was palpable. Every wind whisper through the trees was a secret language I suddenly understood. Or perhaps I always understood, but forgot the words.

We arrived at Shoal Creek Campground in Buford, Georgia at approximately 1:00 in the afternoon. The campground is located on Lake Sidney Lanier in northeast Georgia. It was sunny, but not hot.

Our campsite was a short drive off the main drag, hidden under a ledge. I took the steps - one, two, three, four...five, six, seven - down to our little plateau. But the campsite was not what captured my attention; it was the forest behind it.

Our private campsite backed up to at least three acres of an unprovoked wooded area. We could see the blue ripples of the lake through the mass of white oak and pine trees. Yet, the bank was perfectly hidden as the downward slope fell out of vision...Oh! Don’t squint too hard, there are deer foraging on the forest floor. Dozens of them.

If I closed my eyes, I could imagine that there were no humans for hundreds of miles. Just trees and deer and a breeze.

Our campsite was up and our car was unpacked in less than thirty minutes. Between Nik and I, we’re really getting this camping process down. Being in the direct sun for that brief span of time was enough to make us crave a dip in the cool water. We trekked down to the bank of the river to rinse off our sweat and absorb our temporary home.

I didn’t think camping just seven hours north of my home would be so radically different. Everything from the spongy ground to the native foliage was foreign, in the best way possible.

We danced and littered our lungs and tripped all over ourselves. We embraced the unexpected invitation to be nude. We laid on our air mattress - a brief and infrequent reminder of the modern day - and watched the leaves shift in unnatural ways. And then the winking stars at night. And then the early birds catching the worm in the morning.

We woke early and revelled in each new day. We played games no one else would understand.

On the second day of our trip, we ate magical things and spent the whole day teeming with excitement. The blue water was more blue. The remote campsite was more remote. Our skin was less of a barrier, allowing our external and internal worlds intermingle.

When the sun went down, we pulled the air mattress out of the tent to experience the stars with no obstruction between us. If heaven existed, this was it.

I could not help but notice the surge in my emotional energy the entire four days. Tears would dance along my eyelids in joy. Chills would raise my skin as if sensing something unseen.

This trip was supposed to be a break from our reality. Yet, conversely, I felt like we actually discovered our reality.

I feel at home in the woods. I feel at home away.