Forest Writing Exercise

Forest Writing Exercise - student project


I looked down at my feet and saw the sharp line that separated the asphalt of the sidewalk from the lush green grass at the edge of the urban forest. I took a step and felt the ground under my feet change from the hard, unforgiving angles of the modern world to the soft, living give of the natural earth. A few more steps and I was in the forest itself. I took a deep breath and felt the calm of the ageless trees wash over me. Once I had taken a few dozen steps, the screeching sounds of the city faded and left me in an oasis of calming scents, sights and textures. Looking up to the canopy showed me a leafy green masterpiece more achingly beautiful than any painting, and as I reached out a hand and ran my fingertips over the rough bark of a nearby tree, the tactile stimulation sent a shiver of life through my body.

The wind swayed through the tops of the trees, sending the leaves fluttering while the massive trunks swayed in slow motion. I wrapped my arms around the nearest tree, trying to feel the movement of the tree through my embrace, but the tree absorbed the power from the wind so effectively that all I felt here at the base was the regal stillness of a rooted giant. This was peace: a tree standing tall and unmoved while the world tried to outpace itself just a few meters away.



I looked down at my feet and saw the grim line that separated the asphalt of the sidewalk from the wild, untamed darkness of the urban forest. I lingered at the edge where civilization met the wilds, the moments stretching out ahead of me in hesitating dread, before I looked at my watch, took a breath to steel myself, and left the comfort of the modern world behind.

The first few steps were over before I knew it, and once my feet left the barely manicured grass at the edge of the forest, the ground beneath my feet became dark and treacherous. A constant coating of dead brown leaves hid equally dead brown branches that threatened to snare my ankles with any careless step. As I slowly and cautiously moved farther into the forest, the familiar sounds of the city faded and were replaced by more menacing counterparts. The wind rippling the leaves high overhead made an ominous whispering sound, as if the trees were telling secrets of long-dead explorers, and the trunks of the trees creaked alarmingly as they were swayed and tossed by the elements. I felt hundreds of invisible eyes fixed on me from all angles, and although I couldn’t see any of them I knew that only some of them were imagined.

I hurriedly remembered to watch where I was placing my feet, and was just in time to see a shimmering beetle lunging toward my shoe. I started with a yelp and bounded a few prancing steps to the side, and slowly tried to calm my breathing. The forest darkened further as clouds rolled overhead, and I turned my attention with purpose toward reaching the other side of the woods.