I stepped off the bus and walked straight to the woods, past Emgrem, past Jackson, and tromped right past the Stewart’s Shop heading towards the tracks across from the yard, where they dropped blocks and built trains. It felt brisk, slightly cool, not too cold, but not warm either.
When I reached the woods, I tussled with the tangled limbs and vines that twisted along the perimeter of steel in a maze of dead forest. I pushed through it and slipped among the dead leaves, leaving muddy footprints in the loose ground beneath my boots. The woodland didn’t give much cover, but it was January; it was cold out; Vermont was not a hub for train riders, especially in winter, so I didn’t care. I flung my bedroll out under a pine tree and indulged in “Lord of the Flies” as I sunk deeper into a moist bed of dead leaves.
For the first time since I could remember my attention span made it past the first few chapters. Normally anxiety, racing thoughts, and wanting to go, go, go interfered with my reading, writing, and everyday life. But this time, laying there all bundled up, immersing myself in a novel I had read times over as a kid, felt refreshing with the undertone of freight horns bellowing, the thunderous slamming of cars, and the idling of engines. I just smiled.
I lay there for hours reading and watching the ominous clouds above, tasting the thick air, ready for a blanket of ivory to color the landscape as I ruminated about building a fire; then drifted off to sleep for a quick nap.
It took much work to build a fire, the gathering of tinder, wood, constructing a log cabin around kindling ever so intricately that the oxygen let it breathe into the blazing roar of a dragon. Sometimes it lit quickly with the flick of a Bic, the sparks igniting the dried leaves, the cardboard, the toilet paper, combusting to bits of smoke and a small flame before engorging the sticks and logs in monstrous heat.
Other times it didn’t. This was one of those times; but, after much effort I sat there pleasantly in a graveyard of trees atop moist earth watching the fire glisten, shooting up sparks of bright fireflies to the swarms of rolling clouds.