Growing up there was a house behind mine with a large black walnut tree whose branches loomed over their yard as well as ours. Squirrels would run along all sides of the tree often knocking off the walnuts in their attempts to get some for themselves, and a younger version of myself would then find them hidden among the grass. I would pluck one from the ground, never from the tree itself, and hold it close to my nose to get a strong sense of its smell. Several years ago this house, along with the tree, was torn down. Going into Brown’s Bog a black walnut tree loomed overhead and I immediately flashed back to this small portion of my childhood. I had almost forgotten they existed at all. When one fell to the ground I was attracted to it instantly, reaching down just to smell one once again. It was the same as it had been at home, and I was flooded with nostalgia from the distant familiarity.
Upon entering the woods the long line of us students boarded the walkway where the calling of birds and cricking of insects was overpowered by the falls of our footsteps hitting the wood. While we walked I noticed that the sound, since it was the most overwhelming of the senses at the moment, was similar to that of a large jug of water being emptied. I find it interesting that a line of heavy-booted and mild tennis-shoed people walking along a wooden boardwalk is similar to the flow of water exiting a tiny funnel. Yet I loved it. Somehow when I let my focus wander elsewhere that was exactly what I was hearing and when I drifted back I could hear the distinction of each person’s footsteps. Chugging along I let myself think otherwise, pretending it was some sort of waterfall background.
Also while walking I made sure to pay attention to my surroundings regarding sight, looking at something other than the person’s back directly in front of me. To my left and right were trees, of course, and an abundance of smaller plants and flowers but what I found most noticeable was the growing of some large ferns in clusters immediately next to the boardwalk. Without shifting my glance downwards, as if only seeing forest with no touch of human existence, it looked like what could have been a scene from a Jurassic Park film. A thought crossed my mind that maybe I wouldn’t have even been surprised if a herd of velociraptors came tearing through those ferns. More realistically, however, any range of animals that are not extinct could be roaming these parts. It was amusing to me personally that dinosaurs was the direction in which my mind wandered.
Trees nostalgic of home, sounds reflexive of water, and ferns that remind me of dinosaur movies all make me believe that Brown’s Bog is a pure example of true natural preservation. The tree that was ripped from the ground at its roots at home stood before me alive and well as a welcoming into the woods. Aside from the boardwalk there appeared to be little human interference, and aside from being told that people cut back on the plants I would have had no idea anyone touched them. The ferns and other assortments of plants appeared so naturally placed, in fact they are for the most part naturally placed, that I viewed it as a scene as if from a movie about life before human interference, let alone humans themselves, existed.