Treasures Earned

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I learned to pitch a tent and sleep beneath the stars. For a brief, proud period I was slender and fit. I gained a profound respect for wilderness and nature and the benign dark power of woods. I understand now, in a way I never did before, the colossal scale of the world. I found patience and fortitude that I didn’t know I had. I discovered an America that millions of people scarcely know exists. I made a friend. I came home.”

A Walk in the Woods: Rediscovering America on the Appalachian Trail (Official Guides to the Appalachian Trail) by Bill Bryson

Letter to a Fairy

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“If you have an old tree in your garden with a knothole or hollow in it, you are very lucky! This is a fairy mailbox and, for hundreds of years, people have used these to communicate wishes to the fairies. On a new moon, write a short letter with your wish on a small piece of paper. Place a flower in it and put it in the hollow. By the full moon, they should give you an answer!.”

The Magical Garden: Spells, Charms, and Lore for Magical Gardens and the Curious Gardeners Who Tend Them by Sophia Sargent

Nowhere To Go

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“By now, I was familiar with every curve and outline of a coyote. But I didn’t expect to find one here, and I don’t think he expected to find himself here, either…To the north, those houses were breeding like humans. To the south, the city was installing a golf course. I know a wild animal is wild and anything suggesting otherwise is a fairy tale. When the gates of Eden finally swung open, the animals made a firm decision. They fled, never again to befriend the creature responsible for destroying paradise…He didn’t move, but shifted his eyes again. Then he looked back at me and tilted his head. One of us had to move, and I think he wanted it to be him. But he didn’t know where to go.”

Animal, Mineral, Radical: Essays on Wildlife, Family, and Food by BK Loren

Perfection Earned

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Most of the time I am sunk in thought, but at some point on each walk there comes a moment when I look up and notice, with a kind of first-time astonishment, the amazing complex delicacy of the woods, the casual ease with which elemental things come together to form a composition that is—whatever the season, wherever I put my besotted gaze—perfect. Not just very fine or splendid, but perfect, unimprovable. You don’t have to walk miles up mountains to achieve this, don’t have to plod through blizzards, slip sputtering in mud, wade chest-deep through water, hike day after day to the edge of your limits—but believe me, it helps.

A Walk in the Woods: Rediscovering America on the Appalachian Trail (Official Guides to the Appalachian Trail) by Bill Bryson

Fools, Dirt and Living the Moment

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“I would like to wash my hands in dirt, feel the cool, brown earth cleanse me of my sorrows, my pride, my arrogance, and of the belief that cleanliness is next to godliness, when god is most likely dirt, the gritty transformation, my hands like a seed I might fill it with the knowledge of what has come before. Living in the present is overrated. It is walking with the rhythm of the past in your bones that matters. The fool lives in the past and is forever in the moment, a Zen mistake, a clock without a battery, its hands spread open on either side of noon.”

Animal, Mineral, Radical: Essays on Wildlife, Family, and Food by BK Loren

Voice of the Sea

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“The voice of the sea is seductive; never ceasing, whispering, clamoring, murmuring, inviting the soul to wander for a spell in abysses of solitude; to lose itself in mazes of inward contemplation.”

“The voice of the sea speaks to the soul. The touch of the sea is sensuous, enfolding the body in its soft, close embrace.”

The Awakening and Selected Short Stories by Kate Chopin

Extraordinary Moose

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It is an extraordinary experience to find yourself face-to-face in the woods with a wild animal that is very much larger than you. You know these things are out there, of course, but you never expect at any particular moment to encounter one, certainly not up close—and this one was close enough that I could see the haze of flealike insects floating in circles about its head.”

No less pertinent is that there is just something deeply and unquestionably wrong about killing an animal that is so sweetly and dopily unassuming as a moose. I could have slain this one with a slingshot, with a rock or stick—with a folded newspaper, I’d almost bet—and all it wanted was a drink of water. You might as well hunt cows.

A Walk in the Woods: Rediscovering America on the Appalachian Trail (Official Guides to the Appalachian Trail) by Bill Bryson

Details of Making Camp

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When she crossed that channel, which she had done many times in the past decades, she always felt as if she was taking tender steps across her heart. She walked across her heart into a new life. Ellie would walk into that place where dreams expanded; where the details of making a camp in the woods mattered more than the demands of life outside the wilderness. Here, Ellie could come close to having peace and expansion fill her—what she needed now.”

Finding Mother, Voice Lessons: Tales of Breaking Free; by Catherine Holm

Karmic Hunting

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“None of my college friends had ever hunted; that alone made Roy romantically cool in their eyes. They may have been living some version of the American Dream, but Roy was living the American Myth—the one of cowboys and guns, of a lot of action and not a lot of talk.”

“I told a friend about you, and he’s taken up hunting,” I said to Roy once, grappling for some common ground. “There’s this trend going on right now. People want to pay their karmic debt for eating meat, and this guy’s into it. Cool, huh?”

“Guy wants to hunt he should hunt,” said Roy. “Guy wants to pay his karmic debt he should take on a few long shifts at a slaughterhouse.”

Animal, Mineral, Radical: Essays on Wildlife, Family, and Food by BK Loren

Things Lost

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That’s the trouble with losing your mind; by the time it’s gone, it’s too late to get it back.

A Walk in the Woods: Rediscovering America on the Appalachian Trail (Official Guides to the Appalachian Trail) by Bill Bryson