Last Pics From Brief Visit Home

This really reset my system, still having some problems but hope springs eternal. Making it through the woods and sitting at the top of my hill there was a highlight. I just had some last pictures to share, and am now walking 2+ miles where I’ve moved to. The terrain is less friendly, the weather hotter, the woods thicker and the streams cleaner. People think I must be nuts to love a strip of flood plain in Kansas, but home is home. And always will be.

Part of the beauty, and why I kept moving back (I did homework in the “brontosaurus tree”, an old sycamore, when I was 17 and my first brief time in that area, and the trail wasn’t even paved then) is that it’s not so blatant, you have to look. I’ve moved from San Francisco back to this area; there is something brilliant to me in having to discover and explore, not just have views everyone loves thrown at you. Finding beauty in a night sky closing in around some gnarled oak branches, or the sun setting through the trees, the red tailed hawks or the owls getting close enough to spot. Knowing the trail so well you can’t even lose where you are in the dark.

There is a stark beauty to this place, as well as an all encompassing one. The woods surround, the wildlife as well, knowing from years of moving back and forth that it’s now just a small strip of protected land (due to its status as a flood plain, mainly), makes it that much more precious. The snarled Kansas oaks, the sometimes twisted sycamores, the glimpse of a blue tailed skink sunning…..perhaps you must come to love it, perhaps it’s easier than that, I can’t say. And I say this living now just 2 miles from a rather famous hiking preserve, with woods and clean streams, thick with redolent pine scents, sure to turn every color in fall (my favorite woods favor yellows, occasional reds from vines, but never from maples….they aren’t native to forests there). It’s fair to look on, fine to walk there. I’m growing to like it, but I do well in the woods generally. Here’s where I’d throw in a bad Wizard of Oz joke, but I’m getting enough of those as it is, so enjoy the pics. I’ll share more of the more peculiar, non-fairy creation ones shortly.

Hope springs eternal. I will see this place again, but until then, enjoy these other views of it. There has always been magic here. Magic and healing.


More Firefly Forest 2016

This walk wore me down quite a bit, but it was heaven while it lasted! I can’t wait to visit again when I’m more able!  Just a few more odds and ends: 

I miss it already. Keep on, everyone! 

Found! In the Firefly Forest! 

Well, between two flights I ended up choosing one back to Kansas City, and drove straight to the Firefly Forest, my beautiful and beloved woods. I managed to even walk (limp? Lurch?) to both doors I’d made, so happy they’re still here! As night fell, I was greeted by lovely fireflies lighting my way, still thick through the woods. But I thought I’d share some new photos of the things I found today, as I nearly cried with joy at my brief stay getting to see my forever home, my favorite trail, and the additions of others who love it as well: 

The white at the bottom are just a fungus that grow like plates almost, a natural feature. Sometimes they are broken off by people, however. Please pardon the overjoyed selfie as I walked in, I was quite overcome with happiness. I’ve been unbearably homesick. I don’t know how long I’ll be here, but I won’t miss a second of time I get to spend back here! I’m found again! 

Dreaming of the Firefly Forest (& an Identity Clear Up)

I have had to move, and am quite homesick. This has led to me not updating here as I’d have liked, and complications from surgery have made it a bit hard for me to walk. Anywhere, really. Otherwise, I’d post some lovely pictures, as I’ve moved to a very wooded place! (And all woods are magical, when you truly look….)

I have noticed a large amount of follows of late, and I feel remiss in not updating! So I will try to do so soon, but I also have noticed again many kind comments, though I do believe some are intended for Robyn Frampton, who created this original project in 2013/2014. I usually try to keep up with these and direct people to her sites, but it’s been a rough few months. I’m not much into throwing my face out there, so here’s me in The Gnomist. I was “The Watcher” for blog purposes, but that’s me. Up there. Do look for Robyn’s sites and Facebook page, I think she’s still making magic out there! 

I tried to revive it all on a busted hip (reinjury), when I lost hope for myself. I figured others could use it more than I could, anyway. It seems to have worked, with the help of many others anonymously adding in, and I do hope they’re still at it! 

Finally, I did have two more surgeries instead of traipsing around with pockets full of any and everything in the dark, and in the end had to move without saying goodbye to what little I’d built. My watch is ended, and it feels odd. My Dad’s spirit lives on in those woods. His door, the orange one, marked “G” for George, is very close to his former house. Others had placed two houses (thanks for the comment, though I’m sorry about the vandals!), and other took up the charge. It’s a good thing. It gives hope, a much needed commodity. Just as Robyn showed us all. 

But I am the snarky (if not eternally cheerful and hopeful) person in the video who is NOT Robyn, I have always just blogged it all, until I briefly tried to help revive it. I did want to clarify that so that messages meant for her family are gotten to her instead of me! Apologies if any were missed in this moving across country business. 

And again, thanks as always for reading, taking part, doing the Watcher’s jobs now that I’m gone. Please, just never stop. Never give up. Keep it up. So long as there is a glimmer of hope in you somewhere, you have more than you think you do. Enough hope, you’re truly wealthy. Never forget that. 

–Homesick Watcher 

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.

Now I Must Say Goodbye to The Forest

I’d like to to thank everyone for visiting my blog here, and enjoying my digital scrapbook of all things related to these lovely woods, the Firefly Forest, and The Gnomist. Sadly, I’m between surgeries number 2 & 3 and my ability to get to the trail and make my way along it are now gone. I wish I could say goodbye, but….pathwoods

A sudden switch in jobs is causing a move across country, and as I won’t fully recover before moving, it is with great sadness that I must post that I will not likely even be able to see my trail again. I will continue to post what people send, perhaps find new woods to chronicle (of course I will, I’m rarely out of the woods except at the moment!) and post other old photos of the project from 2013 and 2014, but it’s not looking like I’ll get to stay here long enough to have the 3rd surgery and recover sufficiently to ever get back to this particular trail. Apologies for sounding pitiable, I am just very sad about it. If you’ve read this blog or seen The Gnomist from afar, you’ll understand the depth of that with full knowledge that I don’t post this lightly or for pity.

Farewell, my beloved woods. I take your acorns to foreign turf in hopes I can nurture a Kansas Oak far away. Thank you, everyone.

Request for Pics of Christmas Lights in Firefly Forest!

RackhamChristmasI heard from some on the trail today that there are some lovely lights set up throughout the woods, though I cannot currently get that far or onto hills, even with crutches to capture myself for the blog here. Keep sending some pictures my way! I’d love to post these new festive additions! Thanks to everyone out there keeping the magic alive, and thanks for the pictures being sent my way to post here, and thanks to the many people I saw out there this afternoon. I only made it about 20 yards or so, so it’s always nice to see some regulars on the trail, and meet some new people as well, all sharing tales still of the new additions up the hill and along the trail for the holidays. One said the Little Owl tree is decorated with lights, so I look forward to seeing some pictures of all of this and being able to share it here!

Have a lovely Christmas Eve, and a Merry Christmas everyone, and remember the spirit of kindness and giving just that much more this year. Remember how special this world is, how lucky and unique you are, every step you take, every breath you breathe. Heal the hurts, make sure someone else knows they’re special, let someone know how much they mean to you; help the lonely to feel less so. Do what you can, and never worry that it’s not good enough. It’s always good enough, because you’re always good enough. Have a beautiful holiday season, everyone!