Hanson’s Woods

Summers of my youth
grandparents Northwoods lake home
awakened each day by preset alarm of waves
gentle Horseshoe Lake, water softly lapping sand
rhythmic, kindergarten teacher hand clap
calling me to come…come…come…
and I would, every summer morning, rain or shine

cooling off in lake water preferred option of most
I often chose the shade covering the winding
path through Hanson’s woods
narrowed trail, pine, oak, and birch tree canopied
filtering out most direct sun, lighter rain
most always on my own, peers preferring water
friends my age not as attuned with solitude

a log – stately oak felled in a storm years before
well- placed-on-my-path thinking-bench,
at least when I was younger
by my teens it had decayed, becoming one with
surrounding forest dirt, sustaining life
but not now-adult-sized me
resulting in my finding the more
ruggedly manly stump to sit on for
extended musing, silent pontificating
communing, as I was, with my woods – possession
granted by old Mr. Hanson, who cherished my
love of nature – his woods, and now mine;
a graciously granted blessing

minutes in Hanson’s woods could quickly
decompose into hours, hours into entire days,
at times the cooler winds of encroaching evening
my only hint at passing time, solitary clue to head home

In the years since I continually strode, savored
Hanson’s woods, I have traveled countless other paths
rustic, well-worn; different locales with more
unique features than those familiar to me as a young boy
I have gotten to know nature in other climes, times

none come close to igniting the passion
burning still in my memories of youthful summers
walking the unlimited terrains of a thirty-acre
patch of pines, birches, oaks, poplars
though old man Hanson has long passed, our trails
long grown over, landscaped; our woods now home
to a house, a family who will know nature less naturally
they remain my woods, my no-place-like-home-still-today
patch of northern Minnesota forest I call Hanson’s wood

– Mark L. Lucker
© 2017
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