Charleston’s Forest

Kanawha state forest

Had Jesus lived in Charleston, I’m convinced he would’ve enjoyed Kanawha State Forest. After discussing the importance of quiet time with a few friends, yesterday seemed like the perfect day to drive over to the Forest and enjoy some quiet time in between meetings.

I had forgotten how large Kanawha State Forest really is! My hour could only scratch the surface of the 9,300 acres, but it was enough to invite me back again soon.

Everything from the gigantic to the miniscule vied for my attention. The bright green moss growing on the asphalt provides texture to the road. Energetic yellow butterflies dance in the day like fireflies fill the air at night. A sea of ferns seems to cover every hillside, and rocks the size of houses line the creek.

For the first time this year I rolled down my truck windows to take it all in–the front two windows at first, but the moment was so enjoyable that the rear windows had to be rolled down as well. Had I been wearing a ball cap, it definitely would’ve been turned backwards, much to the chagrin of my teen and pre-teen daughters.

The forest smells like summer now. Spring is gone and the air is saturated with the infamous Kanawha Valley humidity. The wind smells mostly like fresh flowers and bushes, but the occasional whiff of gun-smoke stirs the senses. I wasn’t sure if it emanated from the remnants of a nearby campfire or from my many memories of crow and squirrel hunting with my dad.

Sunlight poured down through the canopy as if the forest had its own recessed lighting. There seemed to be at least a 15-degree difference between the sun and the shade.

The creek winds its way through the valley beside the road as if the two are locked in an epic battle for preeminence. The road is still winning… for now.

Did you know that brooks really do babble? The sound is similar to the combination of gargling mouthwash and the sound your tub makes just as the last bit of water is going down the drain.

While leaving the Forest, I noticed a father fishing with his son. As one cyclist passed another they gave each other a thumbs-up and a nod. The empty picnic tables called out for family, friends and community groups to enjoy them this summer.

Kanawha State Forest . . . with all it’s camping, picnicking, hiking, shooting-range, mountain biking, cross-country skiing, swimming pool and playground . . . provide another reason for us to be grateful Charlestonians.

For the city,

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