Grandpa and I crunched our way through the chest-high, golden grass hiking through the woods, as we did so many summers before. He parked his pick-up truck by a trail on the side of the road where maybe only one or two other cars were parked.
These hikes made me feel protected from the life and worries I temporarily left behind in Brooklyn during the summer. Skyscraping trees allowed me to be a fantasy adventurer carrying a sword and bow with a quiver of arrows.
I couldn’t do that in Brooklyn where there aren’t any forests. Skyscrapers and brownstone walk-ups don’t rustle in the wind with leaves soothingly swooshing. Fairies, elves and bandits don’t hide in allies or behind dumpsters with feral cats.
Our shoes crushing twigs, leaves, soil and stones was the only music on the humid summer morning, a sweet reprieve from roving engines, honking, yelling and rush of New York City. Grandpa showed us that it’s OK to pick up cool trinkets previous hikers left behind.
My favorite trinkets to collect were bullet shells. Their copper colored, cylindrical bodies clinking together made me happy. I like the feeling of them in my hands and the shininess in the light. That summer I collected so many that I filled up a lady bug tin with them.
I was so proud of that collection. It’s lost in time now left behind at my step dad’s home in my mom’s hurry to separate from him.
My mother wondered why I liked going to Michigan for the summer when I was a teenager.
“There’s nothing for you to do there,” she would say. “Not like there is here.”
Was she serious? Certainly, there was plenty to do. I went on adventures with my brother and grandpa in the woods. There were always bullet shells to be collected and not enough people to collect them! Michigan needed me as much as I needed it.
I cannot resist the bullet shells calling me with their jingling on the crisp forest floor.