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IMG: entrance to forest

 

You walk along the trail and it takes you up a meadow-strewn ridge. You can still hear the sounds from where you have just come creeping up the hillside after you, but they are distant.

 

Ascending the ridge, you step across a flat boulder with cup-sized depressions in it and the trail spills down the other side of the ridge. The wind changes. You can no longer hear the traffic or the voices of the others. There’s no music. Just immense quiet and the swishing of the breeze in the trees. The effect is startling but gives way to a soothing peacefulness.

 

You are in a new place now.

 

Looking ahead, the trail leads into an immense forest. It looks ancient. In fact, it has been there much longer than you have been breathing. Perched on the ridge, you can peer easily across the tops of the trees. The canopy is bunched and fluffy, like the tops of the clouds seem to be. You see a mountain peak in the distance that rises above the tree line, yawning at the sky. It’s crest is white and blue, like some giant misplaced ocean wave.

 

As you are watching, a gentle swishing breeze gathers strength and becomes a roaring bustle, as if the forest were inhaling much more slowly than you but with immense power. The trees sway and the canopy ripples as the wind dances among the leaves. A linear break in the trees indicates a road in one place, a meandering break in another seems to locate a river.

 

Moving down to the trail head at the edge of the forest, you see a wide wooden panel with a list of destinations bearing cryptic names. At the top, the word DIRECTORY is burned into the wood with a careful rustic style. There is no map but the trails through the forest are listed with their destinations clearly marked. They probably connect to one another.

 

Looking past the Directory, you see that the quality of light changes completely beneath the trees. It is shadowy and dappled. There are huge tapestries of moss that give the trees long contorted faces; the expressions of rotting stumps periodically decorate the woods. They are not frightening but jovial, as if the trees have been slowly celebrating something. They seem very much alive and expectant.

 

Perhaps they have been waiting for you.

 

IMG: Tree holding an umbrella

 

Up ahead on the left of the trail you spy a little stream and listening you can hear it playing against the moss-cushioned stones, trickling through the rocks. The air smells clean and fresh, as if you were placing your face in a patch of fresh living watercress.

 

To the right of the trail you see a small sign that is barely legible for it is situated in the shadow of a clump of young fir trees. The edges of the wooden sign are tattered as if the wood was torn off a larger sign and reused.

 

In a haunting, scrawling script in faded white paint you read the words:

 

CHOOSE YOUR OWN ADVENTURE

 

The splintered wood seems to imitate a gnarled and skeletal hand that points you into the heart of the forest. There’s a Directory you can use if you know what you are looking for, but if this is your first time here, why not try a trail and see where it takes you?

 

IMG: CHOOSE YOUR OWN ADVENTURE sign

 

 

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