When we got to the bottom of the steps, glancing out the sliding door, I saw that the shadows were getting long. I quickly ran to the closet at the front of the house and pulled out two hooded sweatshirts. I ran back to where Kayla was standing.
“Here ya go. It’ll get chilly soon, in the woods” I explained.
We put our hoodies on and I opened the door, Todd was out in a flash, swallowed up by the dense greenery. Most of the trees that are closest to the house are giant pine and spruce trees. They give great privacy and smell wonderful. As you get further into the woods other types of trees start appearing. Oaks, elms, enormous poplars, and other varieties.
Kayla took in the panorama and inhaled deeply. I could tell she was in awe of the surroundings.
“Where to?” she asked.
I reached for her hand and said “this way” as I guided her toward the footpath that led into the thick forest. The trail itself is only wide enough for a single person, so I kept ahold of her hand as I zigzagged us through the trail that I know by heart.
As we approached the first clearing, my secluded pond, Kayla gasped, before saying “oh my god! You have your own hockey rink?!”
“Well it’s a pond actually, but yeah, my dad built me those boards and bought me the nets.”
It’s not an actual hockey rink. It’s basically plywood backstops that wrap around the sides and backs of the nets. It keeps you from digging through snowbanks to find lost pucks if you shoot wide of the goal. It’s also smaller than a full size rink. After everything freezes, I shovel a mounds of snow along the sides to keep pucks in. When I was younger, some of my friends would get dropped off by their parents and we’d play all day long on the weekends. It really is a perfect setting for a hockey rink. The tall evergreens surround you and keep the wind down. If I was ever to be out skating at night and the northern lights came in, I would be ready to just die. I can’t picture a more beautiful scene.
“So, do you play hockey?” Kayla asked excitedly.
“I do. I’ve played since I was four” I answered. Then I asked, a little hesitantly, “umm..do you play…hockey I mean?”
“Haha…hell yes I do! I’m Canadian. From Toronto remember? All kids up there play hockey.”
“Yeah. Cool. If you ever want to come over and play with me or umm by yourself or whatever, you can anytime.”
“Thanks. I’d definitely like to come over and play with you” she said, giggling, at both the way I worded things, and the bright red color I was becoming.
Acting fast, to spare myself another round of embarrassment, I reached for her hand again. “Ok. On with the tour. This way.”
We rejoined my jagged trail as Kayla continued to giggle quietly to herself. A short distance later, the stream that feeds my pond, came into view. Kayla immediately made a break for my bent thinking tree. She nestled herself into the nook and said “this tree is a perfect standing chair or something.”
I was shocked to see her take to the tree so quickly. Through the years there have been many friends I’ve brought to this spot, and not one of them has ever even glanced at it. I smiled inside as I observed her fascination.
“That’s a great tree huh? I’ve spent many hours leaning against it just like you are.”
She smiled and said “I can see why.” She moved over a bit and invited me to lean along-side her. We both stood there quietly for a while. Listening to the relaxing sounds of the brook and the movements of the woodland creatures scavenging around.
“There is one more spot to show you, then the tour is over” I announced, as I sprung myself off of the tree. Kayla offered her hand to me again, and I helped her to level ground. We worked our way back to the trail. After trudging up a long hill that marks the end of our property, we came to back edge of the woods.
I led her out to a clearing, filled with a mass of long, rolling hills, covered in tall grass.
“Oh my god!” Kayla whispered, as she took in the view. “It looks like a hundred miles. This is so pretty. How come you got such a nice yard and mine is so boring?”
“I guess when the guy bought the land, he was first, so he got what he wanted” I reasoned.
“What’s that?” Kayla said, pointing to a distant grouping of trees, and fallen buildings.
“It’s an abandoned farm. It’s been like that for a long time. Before we were born even.”
“Cool. You ever go there?”
“Umm…I’ve been there yeah. I’ve never gone in the house though. People say it’s like haunted or something.”
“Really? That sounds wicked! We should go.”
“I don’t know. It’s pretty creepy. Whenever I’ve been down there, I feel like someone is looking at me from the windows. I never stay for very long.”
“We have to go down there. It sounds so exciting.”
“Well we can’t go now. It’ll get dark before we even get there” I said back convincingly.
“Promise you’ll go there with me, ok? It just sounds really cool to me. Like something out of a movie or book, but it’s real.”
“I’ll go” I answered. “Are you getting hungry? I’m hungry. Let’s go back to my house. I can feed you, if you want.”
“That sounds great” she said, with a huge smile on her face. Then she wrapped her arms around my waist and planted a soft kiss on my cheek. She found my hand and we walked our way back to my house.