Some are dark and depressing, and the ferns droop in sadness. Others are playful; the sunlight dances between the leaves, and the shrubs sway with the breeze. Some places are completely silent; not even a leaf stirs on the ground. Others are filled with birds in the treetops and animals scurrying along the forest floor.
Some bring you back in time, their essence oozing ancientness and wisdom. Others feel young, as if all the trees would get up and run around a schoolyard if they weren’t rooted to their spot. There are parental woods and fun uncle forests. There is childlike whimsy in some places and a seriousness of the end of time in others.
Forests are as diverse as people—and I want to meet them all.
There is one stretch along Skyline Blvd that I have stated is where I want to live. I connect with this one section of forest. I can’t explain why. It’s like trying to explain why you’re in love with someone. You can point out certain attributes, but in the end, it’s something that can’t be put into words—it goes deeper than anything language can express. It is where I return to again and again to feel plugged in, tuned in, to be myself. It is returning home and I have found no other forest like it.
This weekend we headed north over the Golden Gate bridge once more. Baltimore Canyon and Dawn Falls Trail was our destination in Larkspur, just north of Sausalito.
I drove on, past a little park that was less small town park and more wooded playland with towering redwoods. I turned down a small street and found the narrow residential road that would lead us to the trailhead.
The curved road reminded me of Skylonda—the small looped street where the cabin Tucker and I had in Woodside a few years ago was. The cabins were small and each property unique. All melded into the forest around them, as if they grew from the ground organically or were slowly returning to the earth on their own.
The trailhead was just past the last house on a spur of the loop. The leaves on the ground covered the line wherein pavement ended and forest floor began.
As we came to the final house on the other side of the river, there was a sign. One more pillar of civilization before diving deep into nature—along paths made by humans to be so natural, they seemed carved out by Mother Nature herself.
The sky wasn’t cloudy, but the perpetual mist that lies low in forests such as these make everything a little more dreamlike. It touches the imagination, opening a door to endless possibilities. I wondered if he, like me at his age, couldn’t wait to get out of his hometown. If he yearned to explore. If he didn’t yet appreciate the beauty of here, and how it not just influenced who he would become, but how it had already taken residence in his heart to always be a part of his soul.
Tucker looked up at me as they rode around the corner out of view as if he felt my mind wander and wanted to make sure he didn’t lose me. “Where did you go?” he seemed to ask, knowing my mind had gone on its own adventure while my feet stayed still.
Like with soulmates, perhaps some people are blessed to have a few different soul-places throughout their lives. I thought in all certainty that Skyline Blvd was the only one: that little pocket of happy forest with its whimsy and sunshine. But being here, I discovered another forest where my heart feels at home.
The wonderful thing about places is that you need not choose one over another; you can love both equally, and spend time in both places without the other ever getting jealous. Soul places are like friends—for me, forest friends.