My Forest Haven

*Below is the first excerpt from my book… that I hope one day I’ll be able to share with you, and that some of you will want to read. – Donna

I am restless tonight. It’s late and it’s time for sleep to come, but as usual it will not. My mind is restless, my spirit, more than my body.

I walk through the house, dark and quiet this autumn night. Outside the wind is blowing, just enough to remind me that the equinox is upon us, and things are once again changing. It has cooled off, but not enough to keep a fire going in the stove all night. A gentle evening fire is enough to keep the house comfortable throughout the entire night. Behind me I hear the pitter patter of my faithful companions feet as his nails click against the wood flooring. Douglas, the Pug I nurtured from a very sick little puppy, pulled from his mother far too soon, is my friend, my healer, keeper of all of my secrets. My familar is not a black cat with an exotic name. He is a clumsy, good natured, lazy, Pug, named Sir. Douglas Mawson after the famous Arctic explorer.
In the kitchen I pull out a small pot quietly and place it upon the stove, and then gather things I’ll need for tea. A square of cheesecloth, string, a stick of cinnamon, and dried herbs… for tonight I gather camomile, rose hips, and a few sprigs of dried thyme from my drying rack. I bundle them in the cheesecloth, tie it with the string and toss it into the pot along with a few cups of water and a stick of cinnamon. While the pot begins to simmer, I place a generous amount of golden honey into my favorite mug, and then I whisper a few wishes into the pot, and wait.

Maybe they will come true.

Douglas is restless because I am. He perfectly reflects every single one of my emotions. All of my animals are highly sensitive to my emotions, but not like him. He feels them so deeply it’s almost as if he was feeling them himself. It’s alarming to feel sadness, or frustration, and look into his eyes and see the same feelings reflected there. I have known and loved many animals in my life so far and they have owned my heart, but yet… Douglas is different. He doesn’t just have my heart, it’s like he’s actually physically part of me.

When the tea is done, I pour the bubbling hot highly scented liquid into my mug full of honey and give it a gentle stir. Douglas and I head to our favorite chair and as I sit down, he climbs into my lap as always, but instead of going to sleep, he looks at me, eyes wide with expectation. I hold my mug close to my face and begin to blow at it, not to cool it, but to breathe in & out deeply the beautiful scents that lie within. To take from them what they are there to give me, kindness, comfort. Douglas begins to growl. My eyes are closed so I am not sure why he growls, but I know the growling is directed at me. Is it the steam I am blowing off the mug, or something else? What does he see? When I open my eyes he looks at me as though I am a stranger. He does not run, but he stares wide eyed and unsure of me. I bring the cup down and into my lap and his eyes do not follow it, but instead stay locked onto mine.

Out of all the animals I have ever known, only a few have known me so deeply that I almost wonder if they know more about me than I know of myself. Sometimes I am sure they do.

Autumn to me is always a time of reflection. A time of deep change in nature, and in ourselves. Winter is coming, and we must prepare physically and mentally for such a long, cold, time of introspection.

I have always been safe here, in my forest haven. And I remind myself now there is no need to be afraid, or to be restless…

But now the other half of my heart has left me at this time of change. At the beginning of winter, unexpectedly. And it has left me… breathless.

I wasn’t sure how any man could love someone as broken as me. I didn’t know why he’d want to.

The truth is, I do all my best writing when I feel pain. Happiness, It’s hard to understand, and it’s so.. so easy. It is an emotion that eludes me, why people seek it out as a full time emotion, feeling. It’s so easy, so damned easy.

Sorrow. Loss. Yearing. These things make us want more, make us really realize how alive we are, how human. How every single fiber of our being runs solely on the emotions that run through our veins darker than our blood. Emotions are our true life source, because without them, we are dead.

Truly. The walking dead.

Have you ever felt as alive as you have when your heart flutters as your lovers fingertips trace star maps on your skin? Have you ever felt so alive as when they threaten to take that away from you? Have you ever felt as alive as you do when you feel grief, when you are in agony with longing for something you cannot have, ever again?
Sure, happiness makes us feel alive. It makes us feel good, but it’s so superficial, so fleeting. It’s felt only on the surface, not deep inside of us like the roar of anger, or the the fire of passion.

I’d go mad. I’ve always known that. But yet I did it anyway. I let routine envelop me in her warm and reassuring embrace. She is a gentle lover, a consistent one. I could make love to her with my eyes closed. And my soul. I never have to think, or wonder, or dream.

I was born of chaos, and I longed to silence to it. I longed to never have to feel it again and I accomplished that mission very well. I enjoyed every minute of it. I let myself be taken into his warm comforting embrace even though I fought so hard against it. I let him take down my well built walls and I let him in, I let him all the way in. He had me in ways I’m sure even he did not know because I tried to hide it, but he had me alright, he had all of me, and he’d never loose me, not by my choice. I hope he knew that.

The trees brought me here, to this farm. To this…sanctuary. To what would become for many years, my forest haven. Our forest haven.

Well in reality, it was a dog, but also the trees. I was a young girl, nineteen and full of pain, confusion, and… hope. I have no illusion that things happen in life as they must, whether we like it or not. It’s so wonderful to think that good things are meant to be, or were caused by “fate.” Good things like deciding to do groceries at a different store and bumping into the person we would marry, or stumbling upon our dream job. But it’s important to understand, and also accept that bad things happen for a reason too. I do not believe in fate so much as I do things happening as they should. We still have a choice, and we can make them freely, but they all lead us to the same places if we let them. With great pain comes great strength, and sometimes, courage. But life is a circle, just as nature is. We have our time here, and sometimes it is very short, or very painful, but we are part of earth, just like the trees, the animals, the water. We all have a rhythm to follow, and nothing is excluded from the circle of life, nothing

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