Woods For My Soul
Woods For My Soul
Charles M. Bidwell

There is something warm and comforting to me about the look of weathered raw wood. It may be because I associate it with aged barn boards or the sides of rustic cabins: buildings where people have lived and loved and worked without concern for the appearance of the siding. It may be from the sight of fallen trees in the forest, the staining effects of the sun and rain, or the similarity in the hue and texture of driftwood. Whatever is the reason, in whatever way the soul finds serenity in the familiar, I get comfort from being close to weathered wood.

Of all the varieties of wood, the conifers stir my soul the most. The other types of wood, with their richness of colour and their varied grains, all have their appeal. But they are not as comforting to my soul as are the knotty surfaces of fir and pine boards. Neither are they as pleasing to my eye as is cedar, nor are they as fragrant.

The smell of damp cedar is a soul-feeding sensation in my life. I cannot be sure where I first made this discovery, but I feel it now whenever I encounter it.

Since I was raised in a city with steel-smeltering soot in the air, I can find no association of comforting thoughts of my home and the fragrance of wood. How did I get to have a mental and sensory association that finds raw wood so nurturing to my soul? Where did that gift originate? Why did it bond to me so permanently? I cannot answer these questions other than to say that is the way I respond. Of that, I am certain: it is a fact without explanation.

I know how to nurture my soul when I neglect it for too long in my busy, crowded life. I know where I need to go and I know what I need to do to revive it. I go to the evergreen woods and spend some time alone there just to nurture my soul with the sight, the smells of these tall trees.

The scent that wafts on the air in the woods stirs my soul and makes me feel refreshed and revitalized very quickly. I wonder if I could bottle it--but no, the scent is only part of the aura.

I have a vial of spruce oil. I can place a drop of it on a light bulb before turning it on, but I still do not get the feeling of the woods in the room. The scent in the air only reminds me that I am in the right space when I am in the woods. It does not make the space feel right--only the woods themselves can do that. And they do, even when the scent is frozen in the ice crystals of winter.

Perhaps there is a trace of druid in my psyche: a rich and impressive association with coniferous woods that I cannot recall at will, at least not now. I do not spend much time pondering the source, but I do acknowledge the validity of the nurturing that being in the coastal and mountain forests gives me. I am blessed not only with this gift, but also with the awareness of what it does for me, and of how I can reach it.

Copyright © 1995 Charles M. Bidwell