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(TFT) Swords cut out of cardboard break.

Swords cut out of cardboard break.

   Swords cut out of cardboard break.  Swords cut out of plywood with a skill
saw break.  Wooden rods hurt like hell.  3.8 cm PVC pipe kinda hurts.  Wrapped
in pipe insulation its ok, I guess.  On the positive side there is the
opportunity to fit together jointed pieces and make a hilt, but on the
negative it exceeds our allowance and requires a trip to the hardware store
not the woods.  Less than ideal in total.  With a machete one can cut a staff
or a walking stick, maybe even whittle it down to look kind of like a sword
but it hurts and breaks.

   Then we start using bamboo.  Well, first I have this weird dream.  In my
dream I`m floating off the top bunk from the waist up and fascinated with my
left hand.  There is a seam from the edge of the thumb to the wrist.  I reach
for it with my right hand, then pull back.  Finally I peal back the skin and
look underneath.  Other than bones, the inside of my hand is completely empty.
This shocks me horribly and I wake up with a start.

   The bamboo forest is one of the sacred locations in the woods along
Dawson`s creek.  Others are The Hobbit hole, The Arch, and The Pine Garden, I
may talk about those later.  Ah what the hell.  The readers I`m boring have
left already.  And if not this will be sure to do it.  I`ll start with the
arch as that is in a location most typical of the woods, the others being

   One can tell where one is in the woods by the texture of the undergrowth.
Unless we enter Bluebonnet swamp, which we have wearing rubber boots, the
ground is dryish.  How low or high that land is determines the undergrowth.
Actual flooded swamp land is ferns, creepers, vines, and fans.  Bottom land
has saw vines, fireweed and fans.  Almost dry land has a range of bushes,
thorns, thistles, & weeds.  And anything about two meters or more above the
water table can have grass, but the undergrowth depends entirely if it is in
the shade or not.  Otherwise its typical sub tropical wood.  Sub tropical here
meaning one can see an elm tree and a Tarzan vine.

   The fireweed is the land based plant form of a jelly fish.  It is
everywhere, and it is the reason we always wear long pants.  Hundreds of tiny
little red stingers cover its stalk.  Lightly brush one and receive a rash of
welts.  Each sting raising a mound and turning the epidermis red like a
mosquito bite.  And it itches.

   The saw vine is effective at scratching the back of a hikers calf or upper
to lower Achilles tendon.  Covered with thorns they like to grow across a
trail then up a tree on the other side.  People tend to step over them with
one foot and with their normal pace the second foot catches the vine and drags
it along raking the thorns like saw teeth against the back of the other leg.
This will go through heavy blue jeans and draw blood.  At a full run it will
go through blue jeans, a layer of thermal leggings, and leave thorns in the

   The arch is a tree along a trail that is struck by lightning and has half
died and is half alive.  One half of the tree is still standing, spreading its
branches and full of leaves.  The other half is dead, has peeled away from the
trunk and fallen over landing top down.  The dead part has created an archway
over the path. Walking single file along the path Robbie, Jimmy, Ward, Darryl,
Mark, and I stop and take a moment looking at the details.

   Robbie immediately enchants the landmark for us, ``Anyone who passes
through the arch has to leave by the arch or their spirit will stay in the
woods forever.``  Instead of going around Ward passes under.  So do I, Jimmy,
Darryl, Mark, and then Robbie.  From then on every time we go that deep in the
woods we pass through the arch.

   About 2km farther in hiking along Dawson`s creek is the Hobbit hole.  Up
ahead, through the trees is a massive mound.  On top is the biggest Oak I have
ever seen.  And living in Louisiana that is saying something.  It dominates
the sky and the woods.  We leave the trail and head up there.  The top of the
hill is oddly devoid of any growth except for the tree coming out of  the side
of it.  It`s all dusty dirt.  Ward is walking around the tree when he suddenly
stops moving.  He looks strange like he`s trying to move but his arm is
trapped in slow motion.  I think he is trying to reach for something.

   ``Ward?``  I move closer to him.  Robbie hears and Joins me.  Wards hand is
half way there, still moving slow.  The others come around to see what we are
looking at.  A little wooden door just below the roots of the tree is set into
the base of the hill.  Its made fo four dusty planks each a little taller than
the last so it almost forms a triangle.  There is a wooden door handle.  Ward
grasps it.  It must be real.

   Ward pulls it open.  It swings away from the hill and the base of the tree.
There is the shaded dark of a void behind it.

   An arm reaches out of the dark.  ``Hey!`` and pulls it closed again.

   We all step back.  We look at each other.  We run back to the path and
leave the place behind.

   ``That was weird.``


   ``I can`t believe we found an actual Hobbit hole.``

   When we get back to the arch Robbie says ``Stop. Listen to the trees.``  We
do.  There is a slight breeze.  ``These trees don`t like humans.  They don`t
really want us here.``

   The pine garden  is a plot of land that someone used to till.  The mounds
and rows are still visible rising and lowering every 2 meters.  There is no
undergrowth due to a thick layer of acidic pine needles.  The pine trees are
not the normal pine trees for this area with brick sized pieces of dark bark.
Instead these have long string like strands of  red bark, grow much taller,
and straighter.

   They are more like a hardwood pine.  Each one is at least 20 meters tall
and they are planted along a perfect grid.  One in relation to each other and
the tops of the garden rows.  Because of the absence of undergrowth this is
the only place in the woods fun to ride bikes.  We have pine cone wars here.
Sometimes we just sit and listen to the unique sound of the wind these trees
and wonder what cause this place to be forgotten in the middle of the woods.

   ``These trees like us.``  Robbie says.  ``No one has ever brought an axe

David Michael Grouchy II

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