At an early age, I found nature fascinating. I was probably about four years old when I walked with my father and mother in the woods behind our house in Pleasant Hill, Alabama. Being small, everything else seemed so huge.
It was late autumn and the forest floor was covered with layers of leaves. Our dogs ran ahead of us and I found a box turtle tightly enclosed in its shell. I picked it up and brought it to my father. Water poured out of the shell. He insisted it was dead and flung it deeper into the trees. I don’t know if that were true or not, but I was disappointed.
The path in the woods had been carved by our dogs over the year. They always disappeared into the woods every day. One was a beagle and she tracked rabbits early every morning. The woods sloped and the ground beneath our feet became soggy. And soon we stood upon a thick carpet of moss that was more than six inches deep. To this day, I’ve not seen moss like what surrounded the trees and blanketed the ground. A narrow stream flowed through the middle of the moss. Even though I was little, this place astounded me. My mother and father stood in awe, too, and commented about how unusual the place looked.
That place has never faded from my mind. I went back through the woods as a teenager, time and time again, but I never found the place. It was like we had slipped through a veil into a magical world where fairies might hide. I later learned that the area had been bulldozed by the owner to use the land for pasture. The stream had emerged from natural springs, and he cut a long trench across the field and fed it into a small pond, which destroyed a most wonderful piece of scenery forever.
A few years after finding the place with my parents, my older brother, David, and I followed the stream and came to the small pond. At the bottom of the clear water were crayfish. We desperately tried to catch these, but they kicked backwards and drifted toward the center of the pool far out of our reach. We tried gimmicks using sandwich bags and string, hoping one might swim into the bag, but none did.
Gone is the area that fascinated my mind at such a tender age, which is sad. Perhaps this is where my muse found me because the mossy banks that surrounded the clear stream has never faded from my memories. In my mind the place will always exist, and this image is what led me to Aetheaon, where such places still exist with dangers unknown to us in this realm.