Maple Grove.

Yesterday, I had the opportunity to get around and explore some of the little scattered forest preserves around DuPage County, since it was absolutely gorgeous out, the perfect temperature, and I had the day off. It would have been a shame and a waste not to have gone at all. Having grown up getting constantly lost in the wilderness, hikes through the woods and the forests has always been one of my favourite things; right across the road from the house I grew up in, we owned “a back forty,” a large parcel of wooded land with a river through it, a natural spring, and some great sledding hills. When I lived up in Traverse City, Michigan, there were so many spectacular places to hike or just to walk with views of the bay, all the hills that would definitely substitute for the mountains I loved to see while vacationing in areas that actually had mountains. Now that I’m in a suburb of a major metropolitan area, my choices for these nature excursions have dwindled, though it does look like there’s still a great dedication in this area to make sure that there are some plots of wooded land that remain intact. Yesterday’s visit included Maple Grove, a small sliver of a wooded area, the one closest to where I live since I got a late start. Compared to what I’m used to, it was very small and a little disappointing, but I still felt intensely grateful that it was there. At some points, the lushness of the woods was still enchanting, and, as you got toward the back of the preserve, the terrain varied a little more, got a little wilder.

There was a particularly great, thin bridge over a lazy creek as broad as the path itself, but there were no particularly eye catching sights that might inspire something, except for one great fallen tree. It was forked, and the fork lay on the ground, while one branch of it seemed to twist up, like a rearing, threatening snake. I wish I’d remembered to bring my camera, but, alas, the picture will have to simply remain in my mind.

I’ve gotten used to ignoring the sounds of motors and passing planes in these little nature preserves, but the trail running along the back fences of the residential areas that bordered the area was the thing that really took a person out of the fairy tale setting, though some of them enhanced it. Over by the bridge, there is an absolutely beautiful yellow stone house that looks a bit like a manor in the English country side. A few of them looked like rustic homes of witches or fairy types. Others, however, just felt a little incongruous and reminded you that you were still in the ‘burbs. It made me think, though, of how those people might feel about people constantly drifting around by their back yards. Perhaps the price that comes along with having such a great back yard; it makes me think of the walks along the cliffs and shores on Mackinaw Island or in Newport, where it seems that the deal is, okay, you can have this fantastic place to live, but you gotta let people at least enjoy the views. I know I’d be okay with that.

I always feel a little charged up after one of these walks; I’ve gotten to the point in my novel where Solomon winds up in the company of some woodland band, so it did well to bolster the picture of the setting in my mind.

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