When I was a little girl, I loved to find secret places in the woods.
I spent most of my days among the trees surrounding my country home in Michigan, and I knew every nook and cranny by heart. Though I had plenty of playmates, I often wandered around by myself, caught up in the lovely mystery that comes from knowing the secret places of the forest.
There was one tree in particular, an ancient spreading maple, that was just off the tiny lane I walked on my way to and from the school bus. The trunk divided into three main branches at a place that was unusually close to the ground, and even as a tiny little thing, I was able to easily boost myself up to sit in that space.
Best of all, the tree was oriented in such a way that, when comfortably settled in place, I was completely hidden from passersby. Not that there was much traffic, but a car could drive right past me - almost at arm's length - but no one would see me in my secret place.
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Quite a few years have come and gone since I sat in that old maple, but I have not lost my fascination with trees that keep secrets. Here is my current favorite:
^ This is the view that made me fall in love with my secret place. I am wowed by the delicate shapes of the scarlet red leaves, and organic curves of the graceful branches against the strong, simple geometry and understated grey of the building.
^ The sweet splash of green near the ground adds another layer of pow to the color story, and feeds my imagination with these shadowy hiding places.
^ The branches and leaves are detailed in their full glory against the sky.
^ Sandwiched between building and tree, this view feels like a secret that is meant just for me.
^ I'm fascinated by that window, and like to imagine that a mysterious room lies within.
Tucked away among the trees of Mukilteo, just a few hundred feet from our neighborhood high school's sprawling campus, sits a cozy little cabin in the woods.
Well, no. That's not true at all.
It's an administrative building of some sort, modern in architecture and a bit over-designed. But the setting is perfect for a red dog who likes to run his nose along the edge of a forest, and so, several years ago, Ranger and I quickly fell into the habit of walking around the wild perimeter of the secluded property. And for the first few months, that was that.
It was when fall set the glorious red maple ablaze that I finally discovered this nested alcove on the back side of the building. Just like that sprawling old maple tree by the side of the road, this spot is within arm's reach of a small paved lane, but just out of sight. And while it's definitely more urban than the secret places of my childhood, this tiny niche sends the same jolts of mystery and intrigue shooting through me when I step inside.
I may be nothing more than an overgrown tomboy, but I love my secret place.
And Ranger does, too.
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Here are a few other stories about my adventures in the woods