by Rob McWilliams
The forest had been peaceful, but beautiful only in bits – the brightly rippling river; the stands of pine rising tall from an understory of mountain laurel; a glimpse of the wooded hump of a hill. Mostly the forest was, well, tree trunks; and broken-off bits of timber littering the ground, uncovered as yet by snow worth the name. But, an hour into my walk, I came to a pond, and it was undeniably pretty. I pushed through the undergrowth to reach its reedy shore, and stepped gingerly onto its young ice to get a better view. It was shallow, sand-brown reeds growing even in the middle. The forest surrounded it, part evergreen, part bare hardwood. From my vantage point, there was no sign of human habitation. It was the kind of place where you could think yourself deep in the wilderness.