Chapter Five – The Woods

[Chapter Six]

As much as I wanted to get up super early on Sunday, my body just wouldn’t let me. My lower back was tight, my wrists wouldn’t bend, my sides ached. When I swung myself out of bed and stood up to fumble my way to the bathroom, I felt a sharp pain in both calves.

Eventually, I made it to the kitchen just in time to grab the last piece of cherry kringle before Natasha and Dee-Dee came out for coffee.



“How’d you sleep?”

“Pretty good, but I had crazy nightmares. Why’d you make us watch that horrible movie, Jen?”

“I don’t know… I guess didn’t remember it being quite so depressing. Or so dirty.”

“No kidding.”

We didn’t talk much that morning, but just lounged around the patio sipping coffee and eating toast and cereal as we took in the view of the woods. Even though we still had a few hours left before we had to head home, I was already feeling sad about leaving. We never got to swim, and I was so excited about trying out the swimsuit I bought at TJ Maxx for just $12. It was an irregular, and I was pretty certain that it would disintegrate after about the second time I wore it, but I really never go swimming so it was kind of a novelty for me.

After finishing our coffees, we started to clean up the cabin, pack our bags, and load up the car so we’d be ready to go. Through yet another amazing display of teamwork, we got the cabin in perfect condition with an hour to spare, so we decided to take one last walk through the woods. Nat and Dee-Dee powered ahead of me as I searched for the perfect walking stick.


“Hey! Wait up!”

“Hey Moses. What’s with the staff?”

“It’s for balance. And so I can point at things.”

“I see.”

“And fight people, like J.J. Evan’s dad did in The Beastmaster.”

“Oh, okay.”

”And pull you out if you fall into quicksand.”

“Got it. Great.”

I found a few wild raspberry patches along the way, but they had been pretty picked over, probably by the chipmunks and deer. As I reached into the brush to find more berries, our conversation turned to poison ivy, and whether or not we knew how to identify it. I was pretty sure that it had three leaves, and red veins underneath, but I had to admit that I’d never actually seen it in real life. The fear of poison ivy, coupled with the fear of ticks kept us on the trail for most of our journey.

At one point, Natasha grabbed my arm and pointed toward the woods.

“Cool! That tree totally has a face – look Jenny!”

tree man

“Oh yeah! Very cool. You know, I think I just read something about how you’re not supposed to look at the faces in trees. They’re tree spirits – some people believe that they steal your soul.”

“Now don’t tell me that. Why did you tell me that? I don’t want to know that. Geez.”

“Look, Nat. I’m just telling you what I read. I looked at it too, so now it has both our souls. Let’s tell Dee-Dee to look at it, too.”

“Good idea.”

“Hey Dee! Come here! Come look at this tree face so it will steal your soul.”

“What, are you nuts? I’m not looking at that!”

“Nat and I both just lost our souls. If you want to live on our commune, you have to look at it too.

“I need to not look at it, so that one of us still has a soul and can save both of you.”

“Whatever. You’re so out of the commune.”

“Don’t worry about it, Jenny. Dee-Dee and her pridefulness wouldn’t have been able to save our souls anyway.”

“No doubt.”

As we wandered down the path, we came to a dead end, where the path was blocked by a fallen oak. We ventured down the hill a bit, to a lush area of the woods where we took pictures of each other in senior class poses – praying hands aside cheek, studious fist on chin, casual lean against trees.

We saw that it was time for us to head back and begin our long journey home, so I grabbed my walking stick and started up the hill. As we strolled along the path, I tried to prove I could live on a commune by pointing out the various types of trees we were passing.

“Seems like most of this forest is maples, isn’t it? Well, and birch. Yeah. Lots of birch.”

“That’s an oak, though, right?”

“Yep. And I love all these baby spruces.”

We were getting close to the cabin when I lifted up my walking stick and said, “Hey Dee-Dee – what the heck kind of tree is that?”

“Which one? Where… OH DAMN YOU JENNY!”

“AH HA HA HA HA! Dee-Dee looked at the tree face!”

“YES! Nice one, Jenny.”

“Dammit! I totally looked right into his eyes!”

”Now it has all our souls. Ha ha.”

“You suck.”

“You were never gonna save us anyway.”

Natasha and I laughed about our collective soullessness for the rest of the walk back. After a final run-through of the cabin to make sure that lights were all off, doors were all locked, and garbage was all emptied, we hopped in the car and started our trip home.

“Hey Dee! Can we stop for lunch at that Paul Bunyan place?”


“Mmm… I don’t think we should. They’re really just known for their breakfasts. Besides, my dad told me about this place in Minocqua that had really good food.”

“Is it far? I’m kind of starving.”

“Not too far, and it’s all highway driving so we should get there in no time. And he said the sandwiches there are great!”

15 Responses to “Chapter Five – The Woods”

  1. Dave2 Says:

    Gah! And now this poor souless wretch is going to have pizza with us in Chicago! Is this kind of like a zombie thing where you now have the power to steal other people’s souls? Heaven help us all…

  2. jenny Says:

    dave2: first of all… what are you doing reading blogs at 3:39am? second of all, i already stole your soul in portland. that’s what the tattoos were for.

  3. sizzle Says:

    i knew i felt a little funny after you applied that tat on me jenny! a ha!

  4. Smug Says:

    So, what was the movie??

  5. Don Says:

    So if a tree has markings that look like a butt, what does that steal?

  6. jenny Says:

    sizzle: I HAVE YOUR SOUL! (and have been pushing its limits ever since portland.)
    smug: all shall be revealed… :)
    don: your dignity.

  7. Anonymous Says:

    Dear Jenny,
    Sounds like a great trip. Hope you are not itchy.

  8. Tracy Lynn Says:

    Dude, you lost your soul? I think I may be jealous. Where was that tree again?

  9. You can call me, 'Sir' Says:

    Are you seriously going to tell me that you didn’t stop and eat at a place called Paul Bunyan’s Cook Shanty? Why? How often are you going to have an opportunity to dine in a shanty? Rarely, that’s how. Hello? Carpe Diem much?

  10. You can call me, 'Sir' Says:

    Are you seriously going to tell me that you didn’t stop and eat at a place called Paul Bunyan’s Cook Shanty? Why? How often are you going to have an opportunity to dine in a shanty? Rarely, that’s how. Hello? Carpe Diem much?

  11. jenny Says:

    vivian: it was an extraordinary trip, and poison-ivy free!
    tracy lynn: i’d be happy to take that soul of yours off your hands, as long as you pay shipping.
    sir: i hear what you’re saying, but if we had eaten at the cook shanty, i never would have discovered the 4 lbs of joy that is the pulled beef and brie sandwich. talk about seizing the day!

  12. Dustin Says:

    Hey, what are you saying about TJ Maxx….

  13. kirk Says:

    That tree was great. Too bad it didn’t look like Jesus because you could have sold tickets.
    Bad call on passing up Paul Bunyan. Breakfast is best when it’s not breakfast time!

  14. churlita Says:

    Awesome post. Now, if you had only let someone take your picture while looking at the tree face, your soul would have been stolen twice and canceled each other out. Next time.

  15. jenny Says:

    dustin: hey – i love me some TJ Maxx. but i’m jut saying… a $12 “irregular” suit is probably not built to last.
    kirk: non-breakfast time is the ONLY time i can eat breakfast. and now that you mention it… it kind of does look like jesus! i’m calling the enquirer immediately!
    churlita: okay, you are totally my kind of people, because that’s actually exactly what we did! nat made me take her photo immediately, and then she took one of dee and me later just so no one could really keep our souls.

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