Amazing Kids! Magazine

My Woods

By Isabel Trindade, age 13, Missouri


It was a beautiful summer day, five years ago. The sun was out, seeming to smile down at the city, its bright, warm rays beckoning you to abandon whatever you were doing and come outside. The ringing of wind chimes and the chirp of the birds floated on the gentle breeze, which sent the grass rippling like a lush, green sea. It was the kind of day just made for being outside. Maybe not doing anything extraordinary, maybe not doing anything at all, but just being out. That was one of the best days of my life. That was the day I discovered those woods.

I didn’t actually discover the woods, of course. They had always been there, starting at the edge of my neighborhood. I drove past them every day on the way to school. They had always seemed dark, huge, and imposing to me. They had always intimidated me, even though I knew they were just trees. But as I walked past them that day, something changed. I don’t know what it was, but suddenly I felt the urge to go explore. Before I knew it, I was running back to my house and telling my mom I wouldn’t be back for a while.

Somehow I knew that I would be gone the whole day, so I packed a backpack full of juice boxes, peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, a water bottle, a compass, and my favorite book (because I always had a book with me wherever I went). At the last minute, I decided to grab a sketchbook and some colored pencils.

I left my house around 9:00 that morning and started slowly down the street, knowing that if I walked too fast I would get tired easily. I wasn’t in any hurry, anyway. I had the entire day ahead of me.

I reached the edge of the woods. I looked up, taking a deep breath, and took a step forward. I was instantly plunged into semidarkness. I fell in love immediately. It was like I had completely left behind everything familiar about my life. Back there it was bright and sunny, and there were rows of houses with patches of backyard. Occasionally somebody walked their dog, rode their bike, or drove in a car down the streets. Here it almost seemed like evening. The trees were densely packed, but just enough sunlight slipped through to let me appreciate this wonderful new world. I looked at the trees, so much bigger and taller than the one in my backyard. They looked like they were stretching, trying to touch the sky with their branches. I saw the moss and vines climbing the tree trunks like monkeys, the strange wildflowers, the occasional squirrel peeking out at me only to scamper back up to their perches.

There were no houses here, no backyards, no people walking dogs or riding bicycles or driving cars. The little dirt path I was on was the only sign people had ever been here at all. I had left my world behind and entered a completely new one. I decided I was a famous explorer, admired by my people and employed by my country to explore this vast, uncharted terrain ahead of me. Suddenly thankful I had brought my sketchpad, I found a nice place, nestled between the trunks of the two huge trees (the biggest I had seen so far), and sat down. I took out my sketchbook and colored pencils and began to draw everything and anything I could see. I tried to capture motion in my pictures, and I even tried to draw my emotions, to put my feelings and thoughts into colors and pictures. I filled up several pages right off the bat, with close ups of certain clumps of flowers on huge, zoomed-out landscapes.

That first moment, and all the little moments that came after, were some of the best moments of my life. After I finished drawing, I got up and started walking again. Every time I saw something interesting, I would stop and draw for a little while, and then continue on my way. My mind was a camera and my eyes were lenses. I captured everything in those woods in little snapshots, and did my best to save them in my memory card forever.

I saw a little creek, no more than two feet wide, zigzagging through the trees like a flash of clear blue lightning, bubbling and splashing over pebbles. I saw an old, abandoned tree house, sitting in the tree sadly, like nobody had used it in a long time. I wondered who had built it, and if perhaps the kids who had once played there had grown up and moved away, leaving that little tree house behind in the woods. I almost felt bad for it, and seeing as it looked sturdy, I climbed up the flat boards nailed into the trunk like a ladder and entered the tree house. It was just a little five by five foot box, with an open top and a big window on one side, but I immediately loved it. I made a mental note to come back later.

I saw a pond sparkling in a clearing. It was one of the most beautiful things I had ever seen. The water glittered in the sunlight, reflecting the trees around it. Dozens of lily pads floated on its surface, and the area around it teemed with frogs and insects and wild plants. There was a branch hanging ten or fifteen feet above the water. That pond was where I had lunch, and then, after I had walked a few more hours and turned back around, I had dinner there as well, sitting on the banks with my bare feet dangling in the water, reading as I ate.

As it got dark, I knew I had to hurry home, but I didn’t want to leave those woods – ever. I came back the next day, and the next, and the next. I came almost every day until school started, and even then I still came whenever I had a chance. Those woods were my sanctuary, and still are to this day, five years later.

Whenever I want to read, which is often, I’ll go and sit in the tree house, or just a sturdy branch, and stay there for hours. When I’m mad, I’ll go and just walk along the little creek, staring at the clear water gurgling over the rocks, allowing my mind to cool down. If I ever just want something pretty to look at, I’ll go and sit by the pond with my feet in the water and just relax.

In the fall, I stare in wonder at the bright trees, in gorgeous shades of red and orange and yellow, like a sunset, and listen to the crunch of leaves underfoot. In the winter, I trek through the deep snow, leaving deep trenches behind me. I feel the snowflakes melt in my hair, the sweet sting of the chilly air as my breath forms little clouds. In spring I love to watch the animals slowly come out of hibernation as the flowers poked their bright heads out from the ground again. And in summer, I like to climb up that tree by the pond and carefully get on that branch, and then I’ll let go and drop into the cool, crystal clear water.

I’ve never told anyone about those woods. Whenever I say I’m going outside, my parents never think to ask where. I’ve kept it a secret for all these years, because even though those woods are huge and anyone can go in, I still like to think of them as my woods, as my special place, the only place I can ever be truly alone. To this day, I’ve never seen another person in those woods, and I hope to keep it that way.

That first day, five years ago, I got home way after dark, when the stars were all out and twinkling. There were no people walking dogs or riding bikes or driving cars. The rows of houses and patches of backyard were still there, but everything was quiet and still. That night, I brushed my teeth and got into bed just like any other day, but something was different. That night, I went to sleep with all my new memories that slowly dissolved into dreams about my beautiful day in those woods.