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  • Writer's pictureSarahHauer


"And into the forest I go, to lose my mind and find my soul." - John Muir

I miss camping and hiking and fishing. Used to do it all the time with my family. I remember the first time each of my children experienced it. Our last excursion as a family was on Santa Cruz Island of the coast of Southern California.

My favorite place of all is an area in northcentral Minnesota not far from Aitkin. There is a little lake there called Hanson Lake. I was there on a Saturday morning in May, 1988. The fish were so hungry after the long, cold winter, they literally were biting at the empty hooks in the water. A beaver swam around the boat near its home enjoying the warmth of the sun. It was quiet, peaceful, serene.

I have always loved the outdoors. Even as a small child. When my mother and sisters cleaned the house on Saturday mornings, I was always sent out on my own to get out of the way. I had the fortune of living on the edge of town. I could wander in and see people, or I could wander out and see nature. I usually chose out.

Only a few doors down was the end of the road and the end of the town. From there was a field sometimes filled with crops, sometimes empty, sometimes piled high with snow. regardless, that was where the adventure began every day.

Further out in the field was an oak tree with wonderful branches for climbing and sitting and even laying on to look at the sky through the leaves and talk to God. I did that a lot. Keep going and slightly to the left was a train trestle with a tiny trickle of water running underneath it. I could never remember the name of that creek. It does have one. So I was told. (Sound familiar?)

Beyond that, the next town way off in the distance. I could barely make out the emblem on the grain elevators located there.

I would walk back along the tracks behind the house I grew up. There was an abandoned chicken and goose pen where my grandfather used to keep them. He stopped around the time I was born or very young. It was overgrown, but two of the coops and the fencing were still up. I used to go in there and pretend I was camping even though at that time of my life, I had not yet been camping. I used to imagine I was living like the Boxcar Children. I loved those books.

When I roamed around, I enjoyed that solitude with God, with nature, with the wind, with the trees, with the field mice. Yep, the field mice. I found myself out there, even as a small child. I liked myself out there.

I didn't have to find myself to become an adult. I knew who I was before I left that era of my life. I lost myself as I lived as an adult. As my children grew and left home. When I became so ill, getting out on my own became too burdensome, I disappeared into the walls of my own home. It was a prison.

I have a deep understanding of John Muir's quote. I also find my soul when I am out. I don't like indoors too much. I don't like air conditioning except when it is exceptionally hot. I prefer the path, the forest, the trees, the beach, the ocean, the mountains. I prefer the sky over the skyline. I prefer sunset over the Monet. I prefer the breath of God over the breath of conversation. All things I enjoy, just some more than others.

I hope heaven is a mountain meadow with delicate daisies, the occasional cluster of birch trees, a clear blue sky, and a cleansing stream.

"...going to the mountains is going home..." - John Muir

I couldn't agree more.

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Thanks for reading!



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