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Holli Deal Bragg - Nature is calling my name
Holli Bragg
Holli Deal Bragg

Holli Bragg-081011

Listen to Holli Deal Bragg read her latest column.

      While the summer sun beats down on us in triple digit fury, I dream of fall.
      Spring is a wonderful season, and I like it, but there is something about fall that speaks to me. I yearn for it, I miss it, and I look forward to the days when we don't need the air conditioner, the leaves have started turning gold, and a good stiff breeze makes them flutter to the ground.
      I've realized something. I don't spend enough time in the woods anymore.
      As a child, I lived in the woods. I slept in my bed, ate meals at the table, but when chores were done I would take off to explore, ride my pony through the trails I'd made, hide behind a tall wide oak and read a book, and sometimes even take a nap.
      A recent spiritual daily message to which I subscribe told me I needed to find a quiet spot and meditate. I agree. I've let time, bills, work, responsibilities, hobbies, and other issues interfere with what is truly important to the center of my being, to my soul.
      I need to smell the richness of forest soil, created by layers upon layers of fallen leaves. I need to dig bare toes into the rich black dirt and feel the bark of a sweet gum on my back as I lean against it, taking in God's creation of wonder and allowing it to heal my inner wounds.
      I need to walk in the woods, ducking underneath fallen limbs and ancient grape vines, plucking purple-black wild muscadines and popping them into my mouth.
      I need to feel the brush of cool green leaves on my face, to climb a sprawling oak and hide in the branches, just soaking up the peace and Nature.
      To walk slowly, looking underneath the top layers of leaves for frogs and lizards, old deer antlers, moss-and-lichen covered limbs, would be such a treat. To take time to notice the quiet, the scolding of a squirrel, the rustle of a scurrying rabbit, the whispering wind through the trees, would be Heaven.
      I am considering asking permission to roam the small stretch of woods behind the house on the property where I grew up. The tract, at the corner of Old Register Way and Sinkhole Roads, hold so many memories for me that if I did ramble those woods again, I'd hear voices.
      I would hear my Mom calling me and my brother in for lunch, or to wash for supper. I'd hear my Dad whistling as he worked, and would hear the neighbor as he called his hogs. I'd hear the neighbors' peacocks give their odd, haunting calls and would hear Wesley and myself trying to imitate them.
      There was a special spot in those woods, a hollow I liked to call my Secret Hideaway. The shallow dishing of the ground was obvious, and trees seemed to grow in a protective circle of the magic spot.
      I would walk there and sit, or ride my pony into the hollow and just experience the solitude, the spirit of Nature that made that spot special. I wish I could do it again.
      I need to take a blanket, a good book, a jug of water, and an apple or two and disappear. I need to forget deadlines, appointments, worries, and commune with God.
      I need to read in the mottled sunshine as it filters through the canopy of trees, feel the wind in my hair as the fall crispness chases away the summer heat, and maybe take a nap while the birds snack on wild seeds and berries and a butterfly lands on my page.
      How do I know this is what I need? Because I've had it before.
      Long before adulthood took over and tried - but didn't succeed - to bury the Nature's child that was raised to appreciate the tiny blue flowers that appeared in the small glen, the fairy ring of mushrooms that would burst forth after a rain, the owl that lived in the hollow tree.
      That child still lives, but has been imprisoned by time, responsibilities and structure. But soon, for a short while anyway, she will escape.
      She will taste freedom and wildness in the air as she sits somewhere on a fallen log, maybe a dog beside her or a cat at her feet, listening to bird song and remembering.
      If you can't find me, I'll be in the woods.
      Holli Deal Bragg is closest to God when she is in the saddle riding through the woods. She can be reached at (912) 489-9414.


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