A Return to Three Pines: The Nature of the Beast

A Return to Three Pines: The Nature of the Beast

return post beast

From works by Thoreau to Bill Bryson to Louise Penny, the woods have acted as a character in its own right. 

Tying into our question from The Long Way Home (i.e. bodies of water), which holds more inspiration for you: the woods or the water?

31 replies on “A Return to Three Pines: The Nature of the Beast”

Such happy memories of walks in the woods with three curious children and one happy golden retriever.

But summers spent with mom at the Long Island Sound, the kids absorbed in exploring mussels and crabs in the tidal pools will always make me an ocean girl. Each winter we head to Florida now, where the waters just sparkle and I can just sit back and contemplate how vast they are.

Both – I need my annual dose of both. I grew up in rural northern Germany, very close to the Dutch border, and I remember endless summers spend in the woods and meadows there, playing with frogs, toads, the occasional slow-worm, catching polliwogs with my bare hands in the shallow water and coming home pretty damp, muddy, happy and hungry. As I grew older I snatched a good book, a bottle of water and cycled to a quiet spot in the woods and spend many a blissful afternoon leaned against a birch tree buried deep in a story. We spend most of the school holidays (fall, Easter, Christmas) on a small island in the North Sea and I love the briny smell of the ocean, the salty taste on my lips and the wind tousling my hair. I‘ve experienced storms, riptides, extreme low waters, fog (love it!), drizzle, pouring rain and the bluest skies one can imagine. While woods give me comfort and sanctuary, looking over the open sea with its endless sky brings me calm and quiet and a sense of solitude and serenity, a feeling of total freedom really. Nothing better than coming back in after walking the stormy beach and warming up with a hot chocolate – and a good book. Now living in Berlin, my husband and I escaped to a beech forest just outside of the city a few times and managed to spend ten days at Sylt (a German island in the North Sea close to the Danish border) between lockdowns – not sure we‘d have emerged somewhat sane without either escape…

I love the ocean, and am very fond of the Appalachian Mountains where I now live, but no landscape moves me like the High Plains of the Texas Panhandle. That dry, windy, flat land is an essential part of who I am. An added bonus is a remarkable canyon that cuts right across the middle of the Panhandle (and continues right through the middle of my heart).

When you grow up in Nova Scotia, the water and the forest play a big role in your development. The natural world shapes your character and your views. I LOVE the quiet beauty of a walk in a wooded area or a visitation with a lovely beach. I have spent my entire lifetime surrounded by a world that is paradise like in natural wonders. My children, on the other hand, have ventured much further afield. They have experienced the benefits of much travel, but they hunger for their native Nova Scotia. Louise Penny’s descriptions of the settings in her books are little gifts that appeal to heart and soul.

As a child I enjoyed the freedom to roam in the forest on the nearby hills. My dad was able to easily identify trees when we traveled. I also climbed trees a great deal. Trees are a comfort to me.

I agree with Penny! I love the woods and the whispers of the leaves. I love your books because in them I find those trees. Thank you!

I love both but the woods entice me more than the water. Perhaps because I am an introvert. The seem to hold so many secrets that you can stumble upon. So much flora and fauna to explore. And the dance of the shadows when the sunshine hits always fascinates me.

I do have the good fortune to have both right out my door as I live across the street from the northern shore of Lake Champlain. The best of both worlds.

Growing up in central Kansas I have never seen a forest until I was 14 years old and was taken to the Colorado Rockies for vacation. I’ve seen things like this in books but wasn’t sure they really existed. I was enchanted. Then when I was 16 I was taken to LA and saw an ocean for the first time. I knew I would find a way to have water and for us in my life someday! Now, late in life, I live in the Pacific Northwest in the San Juan Islands! Water everywhere and too many trails to ever walk in my lifetime. God has given me heaven on earth.

I’m a prairie girl so I never experienced an ocean until I was 14 (went to Vancouver Island to visit relatives). But we did have lots of freshwater lakes to go to and the river that flowed through our farm had some good swimming spots. However, I would say that it’s the forests that mean the most to me. Although I said I am a prairie girl I was raised in the parkland area of Manitoba and there were always lots of trees. Some of those trees had berries like saskatoons and chokecherries and pincherries so from about this time of year on we’d be out picking berries to make jams and pies and just eat (at least the saskatoons–chokes and pins are too tart to eat out of hand).

Oh, I could not choose. We have an inherited second home on the northern coast of California.
It is snuggled now in the golden summer grasses on a hillside that faces the rocks and waves of the great Pacific Ocean. Running along the side is a hedgerow that descends in layers of Tan Oaks, Wax Myrtles, Coyote Bushes, Douglas Firs, Redwoods and Wild Roses. It is heaven to me. I am in love with liminal spaces where habitats converge.

I also love that poem.
I love woods and sea and sitting in my garden at home.
Love the whole series -the monastery scenes were lovely.
I have not been to Canada since reading the books but would love going on the tours when I can travel again

I also grew up in Brooklyn and played at the beaches. But since I moved to California last century and lived near Yosemite and later, the north coast redwoods, I’d always choose woods – preferably with streams running through. You tree lovers may want to watch (just under an hour) Judi Dench “My Passion for Trees” on YouTube now- from BBC One in 2017

Poem I wrote and self published in 2008

The Black Walnuts

Sometimes on a clean
cold day I go deep
into the woods to visit
my friends. Standing tall
and stoic like Indian Elders,
arthritic arms raised
in ceremonial ritual.

Sitting at their feet I listen for wisdom
and search for symbols ’til finally the poet
in me played out. Quiet rises around
me like the mist off a heat-struck creek.

Day slips; the sun lays
down exclamation marks behind
each tree. I head home
with the monk in me punctuated.

My beloved mother in law’s name was Jean Miller. I wish that I could share your beautiful poem with her. Thank you for sharing this dear!

I love your poem, especially “arthritic arms” (me too!) “heat-struck creek”, “the monk in me puntuated.” Lots of !!! And a bit of ??

My late husband and I had a farm in the Mark Twain National Forest. He could identify trees by their bark—in the winter with no leaves….our hikes and woods explorations were some of the best days of our lives.

I’m a St. Lawrence River gal…spent the first 28 years of my life at Camp Seaway as a scout and admiring the mighty river in the warmth of summer and in the depth of the chilly winters…through the writing of Louise Penny, I’ve come to reappreciate the community of living in a remote area, where travel was often a huge undertaking and some days, simply impossible. I live near Lake Ontario, where snow falls by the foot and summer waves can be very intimidating. But I love the water…I’m a Pisces through and through.

Walking in the woods and visiting streams and ponds helped get me through the pandemic. Love walking the beach too as I grew up along the shore. Nature is my answer to alot!!

I have always loved the woods…growing up outside of Chicago in the farming areas of Illinois I always dreamed of what it would be like to live in or near a forest. I now live in Eastern Kentucky and my husband (who grew up here) finds my fascination with the mountains, forests, and wildlife quite amusing. Walking my neighborhood brings me such peace and happiness, I can’t ever imagine not having immediate access to such beauty.

Being brought up in Brooklyn, NY, we went to Coney Island in the summertime. I’ve always loved the woods, but missed the ocean. We moved to New Brunswick, Canada and then to Vermont where we took our summer vacations in Kouchibouguac, New Brunswick. Fell in love with the Northumberland Strait. My 70+ acres of fields and woods got me through the pandemic. I need both, but thankful I have the woods and trees when I can’t get to water.

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