There it was again. I had found it many times before, each time in a new location, but every discovery felt new. Here I was again. Standing in a clearing in the woods. Only it wasn’t in the clearing. It was far off in the underbrush, almost camouflaged, as if someone had placed it there in secret, as if I wasn’t meant to find it. I felt a little bitter at whoever had placed it; frustrated that they felt it needed hiding. It had taken a lot of determined meandering to find it again. It wasn’t the kind of thing that you could search for. It defied intention.
But here it was.
It was a thing of simple construction: Some sticks leaned on each other–supporting each other–lashed together and covered with brush. Yet in this simple construction it was magnificently inviting. It was a thing of beauty and practical craftsmanship. Although it was hidden in the dense underbrush, I could see what looked like deer trails leading off towards it. As I looked closely I could see a dozen or more trails, coursing outwards as rays from this fortress. I picked the closest one and followed it.
I walked this trail for several minutes. It was much longer than I expected. As I walked the adjacent trails seemed to fade off into the distance, leaving my singular lone trail. I felt as if I was the only one in this vast forest. I stopped for a drink of water but realized that I had dropped my pack in the clearing. I decided to leave it there.
When I arrived the fortress was empty. I stood for a moment, back hunched under the low ceiling like some grey wizard, before I sat. The floor was a simple dirt floor, blended with pine needles tracked in by someone’s shoes. I bent down, arms spread, and gathered up the dirt and needles and formed and packed them into a bed. It held strong in the middle of the fortress. I lay down and slept.
I slept most of that day before returning home to finish the things I needed to do. Today I feel rested. It is my first day back to work from vacation. A great dread started yesterday, but I was able to lay it to rest. Today I feel well.