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The Daily Register - Harrisburg, IL
Lost and Found
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About this blog
By Gary DeNeal
Gary DeNeal is the editor and publisher since 1985 of Springhouse, a bi-monthly magazine focusing on the history and lore of southeastern Illinois.
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By Gary DeNeal
July 18, 2013 12:01 a.m.

Time may have doctored my memory—how could it be otherwise?—yet I’m trying to relate this as briefly and as truthfully as possible.


 


One time I took my young sons on a hike in the woods near our home. We got lost. You must understand that in my solitary excursions “back in the old days” I was often “bewildered” in the surrounding forest, but, really, that was no big deal because by backtracking and/or applying a bit of extra logic I was usually to find my way back. Only once was I turned around for the better part of a day, but even then was finally able to step out of the underbrush into the tall grass of familiar pastureland and, blessing of blessings, see the house in the distance.


 


The forest around our home made it difficult to fix landmarks, unlike the stretch of woods further down the hollow where bluffs were distinct enough to be individually named.


 


This day with my two weary sons along, and no food or water, the circumstances were changed. Indeed, we found ourselves where everything was changed—totally unfamiliar territory, where instead of the usual profusion of plants on the forest floor there was only bare dirt, as though the very earth had been stamped raw by deer or scratched free of  vegetation by wild turkeys. Not only that, but the trees were larger than average, in a few instances much larger. How could such a place exist so close to home without me knowing about it? Usually the forest was alive with birdsong; here the atmosphere was dark and still. If birds sang, they did it elsewhere.


 


Don’t ask how we found our way out, but we did.


 


On various occasions over the years I tried to locate this mysterious forest again. Hoping and looking were not enough and I was never able to find it.


 


Was this a place one could only find by getting lost?


 


Even now, thinking about that concept almost makes me dizzy.


 


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