Dear Curiosity Journal,

I check the sap level in the bulk tank and descend the steep face of the southern slope to take an alternate route home. I slide more than walk, clutching tree trunks in an effort to stay upright and exposing slicks of soil beneath a blanket of fallen leaves. I pause at a rock outcrop to admire the shades of green among the lichen and moss and note my heightened appreciation for emerald tones this time of year. I long for the lush chroma of chlorophyll and mark each hint of green awakening on the land. The valley and northern slope cling to a colder covering, where ice remains settled on the surface of a slowly thawing trickle and snowflakes stand their ground. I follow the valley floor for a while, letting my curiosity lead the way and recalling memories of exploring the woods with my father as a child. I climb back up the ridge and look around to realize I haven’t covered as much ground as I’d calculated. From my elevated viewpoint, I can still see sap lines. It’s wild how wandering in the woods can warp your sense of time and direction (granted my sense of direction has never been strong). I place my palm on the cool bark of an elder maple and give gratitude for Mother Earth, especially her ability to enchant me with the mysteries of woodland secrets at any age.