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Not All The World Dangerous

April 21, 2013
MIKE MYER , The Intelligencer / Wheeling News-Register

So, what do we tell our children as they read and hear that the world is a much more dangerous place than it was just a few years ago? How about telling them much of the world is not more dangerous? It's still the same comforting, nurturing place it always has been.

Part of what is so frightening about terrorism is that one never knows where and when it will occur. That can put people on edge.

There's a safe haven where terrorism has not occurred and will not. Ironically, it's a place of which too many people are afraid or at least where they don't feel as comfortable as in their concrete jungles.

It's the woods, of course.

Terrorists don't strike in the woods because they want to maim and kill where the people are.

Part of what's comforting about the woods is that, depending on where you go in them, you're not in a crowd, though life is all around you. Should you choose, you can be all alone, with no one else in sight or hearing for miles around. Just you and the nature that sustains and reassures us.

How strange, then, that so many people are just a bit afraid of the woods. They don't go there, so don't understand the forest. Because they don't understand it, their fears are reinforced.

I heard a few examples the other day on a public radio program on the theme of "into the woods." Most of the folks who talked about the forest understood it because they've spent time there. To them, it's a comforting place.

A few were different. One, in particular, referred to the "trackless forest."

Now, the woods are far from "trackless." Go into them and look around, but not like you would in the city. Really see.

Especially in this region of the country, the woods are crisscrossed with trails used by many generations of deer. They're easy to spot, if you just look. There are other, less distinct pathways made by smaller animals. A network of what amounts to sidewalks, roads and even interstate highways exists in the woods.

"Trackless" implies a place where one is confused about moving around. Most forests offer any number of "tracks." They are streambeds, ridge tops, other types of terrain and vegetation. They can be guides as reliable as road signs.

No, the woods are not "trackless." But they are dark and foreboding, right? No.

Forests are vibrantly bright, colorful, joyous places in almost all types of light. In the fall they are positively carnival-like. In the winter, under a blanket of snow, they can be so bright they hurt the eyes. In the summer, nature's nurturing green in scores of different shades and intensities welcomes us.

No animal in the woods, with the exception of some insects, will harm a human being unless it believes the person is a threat to it or to its young.

Then there's sound. Forests can be noisy, but not like cities. City sounds are loud, jarring and sometimes worrisome. In the woods, the sounds are subtle, warm and comforting.

So tell your children that yes, some parts of the world are more dangerous. But there's a refuge to which they can turn.

Take them there.

Myer can be reached at: mmyer@theintelligencer.net.

 
 

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