Vandals Hit The Firefly Forest…Again

I can only get so far at a month post op/4 months post op each side, but I did make it to one of my doors today, to find it propped back up having been torn off. I was able to repair it myself:


But the other, which took quite an effort for me to even get to, I had to give to some helpful neighbors for repair and re-installation. These vandals bent the hinges beyond the point of any forest/on site repair. Thankfully, plenty of people were out and willing to help, as the walk there this evening was a lot for me at this point. Thanks to them. 50e1bf60-a4ab-4800-8c43-887f0a249f34 d77d515e-42d1-4639-b96d-85af3ccad290




























Thanks to all my Firefly Forester friends, and everyone helping to clean up. I did hear from others on the trail that the damage extended to many projects, other houses down the trail and some other doors. I can’t think of many doors beyond the one above until the new purple door and Little Owl, though they did say one was left undamaged. I’m hoping that Little Owl is safe and sound out there! But sincere regrets to all others out there building and being creative, only to have these hurtful vandals being needlessly destructive and hurtful. I remember this happening constantly to the original project, and didn’t know how on earth they could stand the vandalism, but it appears if you bring back the doors and houses, the vandals soon follow.

I will keep reporting on the woods right up to the moment I move, and will add anything else I can once I am gone. For now, fellow Watchers and Builders, keep extra watches, if you see anyone up to anything destructive, snap a picture or two. And please report to me how bad the rest of the damage was, I can only make it so far, but am doing my best to keep it all up to the very last!


Having to Leave: I Thought There Was No Hope Left in the World

(One last picture of this redbud in bloom before I move)

Apologies for taking down my little house (it was near to Antioch, the red roofed one pictures here with the two red doors), we hit some unexpected hardships. In between staggered hip surgeries (arthroscopic joint repair, not replacements), my husband was laid off. I am still here recovering from the final surgery, but emotionally quite torn about having to move, which is quite a tremendous ordeal with this sort of health issue still ongoing. We had to immediately take a job (we were very lucky in that respect!) but it has been difficult having my spouse gone, little help in terms of moving, as well as having to leave my woods. We spent all we had getting me the medical care I required out of state, but I kept my sense of humor and hope, and that’s got to count for something, I mean, the only way I can go is up from here, right?

I’m not the wallow in self pity type, so I made my way today on crutches about 1/4 mile to the door I built for my Dad. I’m so happy people are decorating it, and as always, a kindly jogger walked me back to make sure I was alright. I apparently was wincing a bit! But I was struck, the beauty of the redbuds and the spring flowers, along with the nonstop kindness I meet from those on the trail, especially while everything is so hard here at home right now! Kindness is contagious! Let it be so!

Anyway, I doubt (I’ll see how bad I’m flared up tomorrow) I’ll be able to see the woods much before I move, which has become an impossible task, though we count ourselves lucky in having at least secured a job somewhere. It makes me tear up even thinking of it all, and having to move with so little help….we need a kind word or two. I don’t expect anyone to rush in, but please think a kind thought on our behalf. I’m still surprised that a few efforts to revive the Firefly Forest idea worked and keep growing! Leave me a word of encouragement if you have the time, please send pictures if you can, and all of you out there being so kind and supportive, just keep being yourselves!

 One last note, towards Antioch from the parking lot at 137th, I put in a door for a friend. I can’t take it down, I just can’t. A friend here lost her only child when he was 20 years old. He was a brilliant young man, and her grief was always with me. She asked for just his initials, J.T.F. so if you see the very small yellow door there, take a moment and remember the vibrant life and the joy he still brings to so many. Remember Josh for a moment, and his family too, then know that door is a symbol of love and hope, of healing from enormous grief and hardship, and picture a young man full of life, laughs and music, happy somewhere and no longer suffering.

I miss Josh, I miss my Dad, and I miss walking in my woods. But it all will pass, as long as the kindness of strangers and new friends endures. I’ve felt like a caretaker of that stretch of woods since I first encountered it at 17, and I know it will always be well tended. I will just miss it. I’ve walked it in darkness and never lost my way. It is always dear to me. So, just keep a hobbled trail lover in your thoughts if you could. Be thankful for what you haven’t lost. Think of me and others no longer out there. I need all the positive, well, anything I can get right now! How on earth do you move when you can barely walk? I guess I’ll figure out soon enough! Luckily, a woman who loves The Gnomist (which, let’s be honest, I was basically the comic relief in, it was about the work and stories of others made by a filmmaker here, I just wrote about it and posted pictures here…..until I finally built some things myself for the sake of hope itself) saw my plight, is a realtor and is stepping in to give us some help. Otherwise, it was honestly just a woefully underfunded family in a very bad situation, me still filling glass bottles with messages of hope, love and healing–for everyone but myself.

One of my greatest joys in a year filled with immense hardship truly was being asked by children, “But where will the fairies live now?” (the neighborhood children were truly quite worried….), the building of at least one house (children approved, repurposed from a wine rack), crutching my way to the bench near it and watching the little ones open the doors, hearing parents say, “they must be out right now, maybe we’ll see them tomorrow!” It’s easy to forget, as an adult mired in difficulty, the joy of a child on the lookout for magic, but always a balm to the soul. I got caught so many times doing repairs I could no longer do at night, it sort of stopped being much of a secret.

 Thank you all so much, and if I’m able to rehab a bit before leaving, well there’s no better place to relearn how to walk than my favorite woods. Stop and say hello, if you can,  I’m the short lady in The Gnomist who generally has crutches these days, always the Watcher in The Woods. I’ll otherwise be out here advocating for those with the very poorly understood condition of labral hip tears, the surgery for which often goes awry, is mistaken for total hip replacements, and is a joint repair that takes up to a year to heal–if nothing goes wrong. I am passionate about that advocacy, even as I am more so about these woods, this wonderful project Robyn Frampton and family gave to us all. As I have thousands of pictures, I will add more here even after I’m gone, I just have a hard road for a while before I can do much. Harder than I knew, the hardest is often just breaking down in tears that I have to go. Thank you all for following, for reading, and for believing.

Kindness is contagious, it’s catching, and all it takes is but a kind word to change someone’s entire day. Carry this with you, always, and if you lose hope for yourself, find a way to give some to someone else. Hope is a magical thing. Keep it close to your hearts, always.

Update: The magic of the forest is the only hope I can feel at this point. Having to move with so little help at this point, well, I’ll just say that this is a hopeless endeavor. We need help.