Who is a daughter of the forest?
She is the girl who goes hiking in a dress, not because she is impractical, but because she is perfectly at home among the wild shadows.
The forest daughter is that grown woman who comes home with pine cones in her purse. She’s probably got a stash of creek rocks somewhere, or a few favorite leaves drying on her porch.
She goes on vacation and brings home a birch bark curl, a grey fuzzle of arctic moss, a delicate fern or wildflower pressed between the pages of her passport.
Every pair of shoes she owns has a clump of earth lodged on its heel. Every. Pair.
The forest daughter is that weird chick who admires spiders. She is gentle with them, if not exactly cuddly; she is intensely respectful. Follow her into the woods on a fall day, and she’s likely to stop short, exclaiming over the beauty of a golden weaver, glimmering tangerine in the sun. She may even speculate upon the identity of its neatly-bound prey.
To love the daughter of the forest is to accept the rawness of life.
This is the woman who thrives in shadows which others fear. She has played in dank corners, where the slithering creatures of the world live. She has skinned her knees countless times, and come home thorn-stuck and bramble-scratched. She has been bitten by ticks and snarled at by things with bigger teeth. She most likely has a story about a bear, or a rattler or something nearly rabid.
She knows something of bones.
To love the daughter of the forest is to follow willingly into the dark mist, embracing both the beauty and vulnerability of your own wildness.
She is comfortable with her shadows, and expects you to deal with your own.
Loving the forest daughter requires a dedication to adventure. This woman will get you dirty. She’ll expect you to join her barefoot in the moss, and again in the creek, and again in the cool mud. She’ll make you pick things up, turn them over, touch them. She’ll lead you through hollow trees and over grimy boulders. She’ll wipe her paw across her face, leaving a little trail of grit upon her lip, then she’ll kiss you with it.
The forest daughter will challenge your concept of success. She cares little for what material things you have, or what titles you bear. She wants to know: What challenge to has your soul overcome? How have you adapted? How do you behave in the darkness, in the storm, in the fire? Do you know when to hide, and when to roar?
The forest daughter is deeply conscious of roots. She cares for sources, where they lead, and what they produce. She is interested not simply in how you live, but why.
She also wants to know what you are reaching for.
The forest daughter has a keen eye for toxins. She knows just what will hurt her in the woods, and how. She plays not with these characters. When her eye passes over you, she is judging you: considering what venom you may carry, what danger you may pose, whether you can be an ally, whether you can be trusted with her secrets.
She is part mother-bear, part scientist, part shamaness, part tree.
If she takes you into her heart, she’ll love you simultaneously with the passion of a wolf and the sweetness of a spring blossom. She nurtures and defends all within her nest.
She is likewise a protector of all small lives. Watch where you step. If you would love her, love also her dear ones: small lilies of the valley sprouting on shady paths. The microuniverses found in moss on old boulders. She may ask you to turn over rocks and rotting logs, to show you her wee beloveds, but set these all back again: gently, gently.
The forest daughter is anxious to know how well you see. She wants to know if, when the sun passes down through the boughs and casts fairy lights upon your path, it triggers your smile. So open your eyes! Point at the star-shaped flowers growing off the path. Stop to admire snakeskin on a tree root. Mark the strange faces rising from the patterns of bark.
Love the forest daughter best by listening.
Understand that the forest daughter does not invite you to the woods for conversation. She is showing you her world, her heart; she wants to know if you hear the same music she does. When you walk with her in nature, tread lightly, and speak just in whispers. Pause for long minutes; show that you can be content and happy with her, saying nothing at all.
Try to stand so still, that the birds forget you are intruding. Try to stand so quietly, that you can hear tree-speech: the low murmurings of branches reaching for one another; the whispered gossips of leaves.
It is in these moments when, if you are quite brave, you might tell the forest daughter—softly, softly—just what you hear. And that will be a great beginning.
When you can speak to her of these things without any words at all, you might very well win her love.
Author: Katie-Anne Laulumets
Editor: Catherine Monkman