“Nature and I”
19th January 2023
“Nature and I”
Many times I have entered a forest alone. There was a phase in my life when I could go deeper. Now I still process why I lost my trust in the woods. Maybe I already reached a limit of fearful memories. Even during summer days, I am scared. It doesn’t matter if I have company or not.
My hometown was built after World War II in the middle of a huge uninhabited southern woods. It’s this kind of wilderness where you can be lost for days and never find yourself again. It is just behind my house. Many animals live there: deer, roes, wild boars, hares, foxes, hedgehogs, moles, badgers, as well as many many birds, amphibians, insects, and of course reptiles such as a poisonous snake European viper that my brother once caught into a jar with our neighbour.
When I lived in Poland, I was jogging there. We don’t have hunters but we do have soldiers. They practice shooting from tanks. They are far away, on the other side of the road, but when they do it, the windows in our houses shake. When you are in the forest at that time it can get very emotional. You can imagine yourself being shot. At least this is what I always used to do. I was running fast among the trees, imagining suddenly falling down like a deer killed by a hunter. It made me run faster. My legs were departing from the ground a few times in one second and every departure could be the last. The weird sensation I can’t imagine experiencing again.
I remember when my friends from Warsaw came to visit, they entered this kind of forest for the first time. Then I felt like I own the place, knowing where to go and where it is better to turn back. Over the years I have led many tours. A stroll in the forest was included in most of the guests’ visits and in our daily lives. I was four years old when we moved into that house and at the beginning, we were strolling there almost every day, followed by a bunch of unattended dogs.
There was a winter Sunday afternoon in times when we still had a lot of snow. I was in the forest with my mom. We were walking on a long road. There was no sign of human presence around. The only footsteps left on the snow belonged to animals. There was dead silence. Suddenly we saw a male deer in front of us. He wanted to cross the road. We stopped as he did. We were looking at each other. After a while, he made a move with his head toward the direction he came from and ran to the opposite, disappearing among the trees. Then several female deer followed him. They didn’t stop as he did, they jumped gracefully in front of us, one after another.
There was a summer day and I was playing on the street with my brother and my friend in front of her house. We heard them before they appeared - a group of horses running toward us. We were too small to be there unattended, so it was my friend’s grandma who quickly took us behind the fence. We looked at the herd passing through our houses and disappearing into the woods. Later, people talked about horses that escaped and were never found again.
Sometimes it’s difficult to be in a city. Taking public transport is exhausting. There are people everywhere and there is no space for me. I am just another guy in the crowded subway who makes it even more difficult to breathe. I have moments when I don’t understand why I moved out from the woods to a place where everything is in a rush.
I don’t go to our forest anymore. Last winter the neighbour (with whom my brother caught the snake) killed himself there. My friend, the first person I met when we moved in. Our houses share a wall. He was one year younger than me. After I moved out we didn’t talk, but my brother was still friends with him.
I remember we used to tease each other. Often we would enter the houses at the same time, meeting in front of our doors. He had a specific smile, typically boyish. I remember I was jealous of him because he used to be good at absolutely everything, staying cool at the same time. I remember waking up because of him playing basketball in the garden just below my bedroom window. The sound of a ball hitting a metal basket is the sound of my childhood holidays mornings. I guess that now his parents moved that basket away. I don’t know because the trees grow so big that I can’t see their garden anymore.
Maybe he was the one who took my forest away from me. I like this thought. I still have something to tease him about. I don’t live in that house anymore and I will never wake up to the childhoodsound again. In my mind, I still can shout to him from the window about the lost forest. As a response, I can see his boyish smile which makes me even angrier. I have something to complain to him forever.
A week before he died, I had a dream about it. I dreamt exactly everything how it later happened in real life. The dream felt ridiculous, even funny. After the night I had it, I said it to my mom and my friend. Later on, I guess that we were all scared so none of them wanted to talk with me about it anymore. I didn’t know what it meant so I tried to find some help on the internet. I found posts of some people who had a similar experience. It calmed me when I read that at least once in a lifetime, many people might have a prophecy dream.
When we moved into the house by the woods I was terrified that it’s gonna burn down. For four years I kept all my belongings in two big trash bags in case we had to run away from the fire. I was eight when I finally decided to unpack the bags and made myself feel at home. I don’t remember exactly, but less than a week after I did it, there was a fire and our roof burnt down. It appeared that the construction of our chimney was faulty.
I shared this story last month when I went to a party. A boyfriend of my colleague told me that people used to have this kind of intuition so they could sense when something was not right. Later on, they moved far away from their nature and stopped trusting themselves. Was I so close to nature as a four-year-old child? Now it’s hard to say when I am twenty-five, already located so far away. Staying in a subway for longer I can slowly start doubting if any of these things have ever happened.