Grit Blogs > Country at Heart

Finding Our Way Through the Back Woods

Country at HeartWhen I first wrote (blogged) about me and my siblings trekking through the back woods of rural Arkansas, I was amazed at how we (as kids) were able to do that – without ending up in Timbuktu or some other foreign country. But, now that I think back on it, it's funny, at the least. From what I remember, my mother took us to Cousin Callie's house the first time, then after that, we went on our own.

We must have been no more than 15 (my oldest brother); no more than 14 (my oldest sister) and I no more than 12. Actually, we were probably younger than those ages, because I can't even remember the first time we went to visit Mrs. Ward. That's how long ago it's been.

On the other hand, I sort of believe that people (including children) have a built-in GPS system that directs them to people, places and things. More specifically, it's like an internal navigational system. Something in our heads is automatically programmed to direct us where our feet want to go. I'm not getting into mysticism, even though the concept is somewhat otherworldly.

After our first trip through the woods, I don't recall that we ever went with an adult again except the time when we were with Mrs. Brown (when she found the turtle that we captured and ate for supper).

After I was grown and had left home, for some reason, I always had a good sense of direction. I could usually go someplace once and find my way back there again. And that's how it happened when we visited our neighbor who lived in what I call the "Garden of Eden." We didn't seem to be afraid of anything and luckily, we never encountered any wild animals – not even the black panther (which would have surely finished us off).

Apparently my mother wasn't afraid for her little "Arkansas Travelers" either, because the only defensive weapons we'd possess were our walking sticks and our old, feisty guard dog, Shep. Anyone who lived or grew up in the "old" country is probably familiar with such canes. They are not for support nor for steadying weak, older people. They are for protection against snakes and foxes. Incidentally, one of our older neighbors encountered a fox that attacked her. She beat him to death with her walking stick. I shudder to think what would have happened if she hadn't had that old, dependable wooden weapon.

Now, we're back on the road again. Our journey was always so peaceful as we meandered through the woods, listening to the birds chirping, hearing an occasional rabbit or squirrel rustling through the grass and wading in the bubbling brook from which we thirstily drank.

The many trips we made through those wood are so ingrained within my heart and the memories are so precious – and the best part is that each trip-memory is mine to keep and treasure forever.