My Sunny Side: Woods

I love nature!  I grew up in New Hampshire, a mostly rural state with plenty of majestic woods, ponds, lakes, and the White Mountains.

Many of my very few happy childhood memories of our small family spending the day at the lake.  We were very poor, so we did that a lot.  I took to water like a frog!  I love swimming to this day.

I would get pissed when I would have to wait after lunch to get back into the water!  I would stay in so long my skin would get all pruny.  And I loved hunting for frogs and turtles.  I was worlds away from all my troubles.

Crystal Lake From My Childhood

Crystal Lake From My Childhood

When I was a little older, say 10-13, I would leave on early summer mornings and explore all day by myself.  Even in the winter I would escape my family misery to go sledding or to build snow forts.  I often wouldn’t return until the lights came on; my signal I had to get my ass in the house.

Exploring the woods provided me an outlet for my angst and pain.  I felt connected to everything.  I always found the woods to be so serene, so worthy of all kinds of adventures.

When I got older, part of my juvenile delinquency program, we would go on hiking and camping trips for days.  I discovered the Man On The Mountain! (alas, his face broke off the mountain a few years back ๐Ÿ™ ).

Old Man Of The Mountain

Old Man Of The Mountain

I loved those times!  It was the first time in my life that I was challenged on arduous hikes, and then rewarded with the most majestic views from atop mountains in the White Mountains.

My college, Plymouth State College in Plymouth New Hampshire, was just minutes from Tenney Mountain.  I learned how to ski there and learned to love it!  I never progressed past the beginner slopes, but my love for nature was even more solidified.

Plymouth State College

Plymouth State College

When my children were old enough, and I mean I am talking Nick was 5 and Matt 3, I would take them into the woods for long hikes and snacks.

As a matter of fact, for the majority of the time I had them–until my ex and her parents brainwashed them into hating me, and so I haven’t seen them in 10 years–we spent almost all of our visitation time in nature.

I am proud of the fact that I instilled in my boys a true passion, appreciation, and respect for nature.  I taught them to fish, hike, build fires, hunt frogs.  When they were only 7 and 5 I took them on a very challenging hike in the White Mountains; they did incredibly well.  I hope that they still have that profound love of nature that I do.

White Mountain Range N.H.

White Mountain Range N.H.

Even in my worst days of alcoholism, I always took walks in the woods.  I did a lot of fishing.  For me, spending time in nature, is like spending time with my inner self.

Every time I explore the woods, go swimming, go fishing, I feel like I am truly home.  I can’t get enough of the sights, the smells, the sounds.

We are going on a skiing trip on January 28th, I can’t wait!  Next time you are feeling blue, get out into nature!  I don’t mean a park.  I mean, if you have the access, deep into the woods!  Leave your phone at home.  Go find yourself.  You’ll be waiting there, I guarantee it.

(just a side note:  I do not condone hunting unless it is a controlled hunt for thinning a herd, or for true survival.  I shot a squirrel with my BB Gun at age 12 and felt so bad about it, I gave it a formal funeral and never killed another creature again.  Well, I might have skinned a few frogs…anyway.)


  • Oh how I can relate! I often lose myself in nature, it’s a lovely break from reality. Cliff tops seem to hold the most power to my psyche

  • There are many places I take my boys that they love going, hiking in state parks, or an arboretum with edible garden, or a small local nature preserve surrounding a pond. I remember going to lots of places as a child – canoeing, hiking through trails, exploring the gulleys in the lands behind our house.

    My favorite is the beach. The whole atmosphere, the meeting of land and sea, the sun and winds off the water, the ebb and flow of the tides, it is all meditative and relaxing, even if crowds are around.

    Rob, I’m sorry your ex has turned your kids against you. It’s one of the cruelest things a parent can do, just to “punish” his or her former partner. I have spoken many times with my brother about his situation with his ex and his daughter, with whom he has been estranged for about 5 years (she is 21 now). Oddly, his second wife perpetuated this estrangement somehow. He has given up hope, despite my support, and it breaks my heart. And I will tell you that your situation breaks my heart just as much. My father has more or less separated himself from me, and that is painful. I hold out hope that your boys feel that lack, and as they grow and mature and gain wisdom, they will realize what has happened, and return to you, seek you out.

    I truly wish that for you.

  • Totally agree … there is a serenity in the forest or by the ocean that I simply cannot find anywhere else ๐Ÿ’›

  • I also enjoy hiking and I agree with your view of hinting or killing game. I think unless someone is a vegetarian that everyone should take the life of their provision at least once. If not actually taking the life they should partake of raising it, or cleaning it. It in stills such an appreciation for our food. My stepson has killed some squirrels but I wouldn’t allow it unless we ate them. A guy ran over a rattlesnake cutting my pasture – I skinned it and cooked it. I have had to process some of my roosters – which broke my heart, but I said a prayer of gratitude for the provision of God and we ate them. It has seriously changed my appreciation for food in general. Anyway, back to hiking – do you talk to your children now? You could suggest a hike through of the Appalachian Trail or the Pacific Crest Trail. There are also some smaller ones all across America. It might be a good bonding period.

  • My solace is the ocean. I love hiking, skiing, and running outdoors but the sea and the beaches are where I find the most peace. Nature, our natural repose.

  • I really enjoyed reading this post Rob. We share a passion for nature!
    You are a dad that taught his children nature. I like those kinds of dads.

  • Great post! I grew up in rural Pennsylvania with woods and streams to explore. As an only child I was on my own so nature was my playground. I also hope you can reconnect with your boys and that they still retain that love of nature you imparted to them. And as for you… BE CARFUL when you going skiing!

  • Great post. Brings back memories of my own. Something to plan for in the Spring to Fall here in the Southern Tier of New York.

  • Poor squirrel ๐Ÿ˜ญ . just harassing you. Wonderful post Rob!

  • Sounds absolutely lovely!

  • Yes, I know what you mean. You can peace only when you are surrounded by something true and pure like nature.

  • This is a lovely post. The natural world is something to be treasured and enjoyed. I wish I had more of those kinds of experiences growing up and have always kind of envied those who did. Unfortunately, even now, I barely get out of the city…

  • I would love to take my boys hiking (they are 3, 5 & 9), this has inspired me to push a bit harder to make it happen. I hope that you can reconnect with your boys

    • Thank you very much! Oh, please, do take your boys hiking. And by that I don’t mean it has to be on a mountain. Just find the woods and watch the magic!

      • I would love to explore the woods, but they are a bit hard to come by here (smack in the middle of the Arizona desert lol). It’s my dream to be able to live somewhere like you have described in this post ๐Ÿ™‚ looks and sounds magical!!

      • Oh, I can assure you, it is! mountains, lakes, streams, trails, hills, thick woods, ponds. Yes, I do love it.

      • Even in the desert of Arizona, there are plenty of places to take the kids and yourselves for a fun day. You just have to make sure you are prepared for the heat and watch the snakes. My friend in NM got a map of National Parks of her state, then visited them one by one, the closet to her home first. Just a suggestion!

      • awesome mikey, thanks for the heads up…especially on the snakes lol

      • Thank you ๐Ÿ™‚ that’s a great idea. my youngest just turned 3 & it’s only now that I feel confident to take him exploring the desert a bit more. I’m not an Arizona native, so I’m ALWAYS watching for snakes (hysterically!!) & in the heat of the summer it’s impossible to stay outside too long. But this time of year is perfect so I’m looking forward to FINALLY getting our feet on one of these mountains I see everywhere ๐Ÿ™‚

      • Awrsome!

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