Forest With My Grandfather's Dog essay example

526 words
Some of my first thoughts about Black River Falls, a small community of sixteen thousand, in Northern Wisconsin, are of the profound sense of freedom I had when I visited my grandfather's house. I was allowed to wonder the forest with my grandfather's dog, Stubby. My grandfather never worried about me wandering alone in the forest, because Stubby always knew the way home. I would give my grandfather that wide-eyed look to escape once again into the forest. "Off", he would say almost whispering and the adventure would begin.

Stubby, a small brown multicolored border terrier would scamper down the sandy path leading into the forest. Stubby named for his short tail, was a very alert, active little dog capable of squeezing through narrow apertures and taking on animals twice his size. My grandparents initially settled in Black River to farm the land, which included several hundred acres of forest. When most people look at the forest, they only see the vast expanses of trees: white and red pine; willows, oaks, and soft maple all tightly packed together, but the forest is so much more than that. It is a magical place, for a child to explore.

The towering trees provide shelter along the well-worn path that leads deep into the forest. Filtered sunlight casts shadows through the twisted branches above, and makes the leaves glitter and dance in the wind. The ground is damp and moist, a perfect environment for the bounty of mushrooms waiting to be discovered. As a child I was always surprised that mushrooms came in such a kaleidoscope of colors, as well as sizes and shapes that excite the imagination. Each exploration in the forest produced something new: a freshly fallen tree, a small stream, a whitetail deer grazing along the path, a pair of squirrels racing among the trees, or a great horned owl surveying the forest floor for his afternoon lunch. A brilliant white birch with arms outstretched stands erect, like a doorman welcoming each guest into the forest.

At its base lie finely curled sheets of bark nestled among the wax-covered pine needles on the ground. I stepped carefully along the path, cautious not to disturb any near by critters. Although seemingly still and quiet, the forest is alive with the Red Bellied Woodpeckers rhythmically engraving the trees; interrupting the melody of the crickets and the frogs. The creeks, devoid of water in summer are pulsating with life in the spring. I always found it fascinating to play in the trickling water of a small stream. The forest is a carnival of smells; the pungent aroma of pine sap glistening on cones announce summer, while damp burnt leaves evoking a sense of fall around the corner, and with summer each new scent quietly added to the marquee.

Stubby would occasionally wandering back, and then scurry away in search of some new smell. I find it amazing how a certain smell can transport me back into the forest of my childhood and that sense of freedom.