Bereaved and alone, he pushed himself to continue doing the things he’d done before. Cooking, cleaning, reading, writing and walking. He walked often to the edge of the neighborhood. To that line where development, for whatever reason, had stopped fifty years ago when the houses there were built. Kids used to play in those woods, when the nieghborhood was younger and there were children everywhere. There were worn footpaths then and treehouses and ground forts fashioned out of honeysuckle and sumac and bits and pieces of boards and panels stolen or left over from the new constructions. It was a place of escape and fantasy. There was a story then that the old man who originally owned the property had left a trunkful of money – or maps that would lead to another trunk of money – somewhere on that land and that it had never been found.
But no one went into those woods anymore. There were no children about – or those who were in the neighborhood now were wrapped up in structured play – in supervised team sports and computer games. But in the evenings, after work, he found himself drawn there and he had found, he thought, the traces of the old paths and he had set about to walk them every day he could and now they were well-defined and easy to travel
There were spots in this little rectangle of wilderness where trees had fallen from sickness or high wind and the canopy opened up to reveal a view of the sky, the far mountainside and the green river below. In the late autumn and early spring he often stood in such a spot – one that opened to the west, into the afternoon sunlight – and soaked up the last of the warmth and light that was missing everywhere else in his life.
There were sandstone outcroppings, almost cliffs, on that hillside that terraced here and there to make a seat for him. There were still traces on those great rocks of the paint the children had used a generation ago to mark their territories. One such – a picture of a thunderbird – evidenced a talented artist.