So there I would run. I would hide in that tiny remembrance of how things were. It was there I would go to cry and pray and make bold attempts to regain a sense of self without a computer or a production report or co-workers that chitchat about J-Lo’s ass.
Those woods were full of Floridian things I hadn’t seen for a long time. Florida fence lizards, hooded merganser ducks, and hawks just to name a few. There were gopher tortoise holes spread all about in what are called colonies. That’s a rare thing.
After I tiptoed in the first time to those little woods, I was addicted. I had to go. I had to partake of the wildness there and l always tried to leave an offering of sorts. I left leaf lettuce for the tortoises and pecan halves or plain brown rice for anything else that might want it.
One day I found a turkey feather. Then another, I saw where it had dusted itself in the sand. I knelt down and could still smell the essence of her birdness there. I felt blessed that day and many more that followed. I was always looking for more feathers and spoor and more proof of that wildness I craved. One hot, hazy day she revealed herself to me. The turkey-hen saw me and saw me seeing her. She just stood in the shadows of the live oak and palmetto, watching me watching her. And then she moved on. That day I felt chosen. Just like the day I saw a 3 inch tortoise eating the lettuce I’d left as an offering the day before.
Those were golden days. I wanted to share those days with others but they just looked at me with disbelief and urged me to be careful and saying, “It’s not safe in those woods”.
A couple of months after I was granted release from going to that cold, stagnant building to work I began a battle with the Dark Man of depression like no other battle before. I came so, so close to laying down my life to join him. I knew how and where I wanted to die. I wanted to lie down in those little woods to rest for as long as the universe would let me. I went there to make sure... to pray...to pick the place.
On that cool, golden day I entered the woods crying. I saw the beauty of the earth and sky there and knew that in my leaving I would be giving up on all that I loved. I begged for relief. I shed my clothes and waded into the cold little pond. The sun was gold and quicksilver on the water. I pulled the water-moss all around me and could feel the heat from it. It was so alive. I was so alive. I was baptized in life.
I left the woods that day feeling spent and grateful and for the first time in weeks I knew I could once again overcome the Dark Man’s beckoning. I also knew that he would call again. But for now, I have a respite.
Three weeks later the bulldozer came to the little woods. It left no tortoise hole. It left no palmettos. It left nothing for a turkey or fence lizard. It systematically covered everything that walked or crawled. The trees…the standing people… were the only witnesses of the tortoises that were buried alive. The tortoises would remain buried alive for months, until they finally were granted their long awaited death.
I will not die in those little woods and I could not stop their death.