Use of the Forest

Public use of Saginaw Forest is encouraged. Rules for the public's use include (but are not limited to):

Monday, August 31, 2015

We fly slowly.

I've generally considered myself a very adaptable person. I would claim a genuine appreciation for change--seasons, school years, jobs. In theory, I accept the fact that change is the only certainty in life, and that you might as well make transitions gracefully.

But the truth is that I have been dreading tomorrow since the first day I moved into cabin, on August 15th of 2013.

I write to you tonight beside my last bonfire. The wood was a bit wet from our recent rains, and I burned through match after match in an attempt to kindle a lasting flame. I'd like this night to last forever, but I know it will burn out, just as I always knew I would have to leave here.

Two evenings ago I laid on the dock with Leto, welcoming the dusk. I was waiting, anticipating my favorite residents of the woods. Sure enough, it wasn't long before we heard the strange, slow staccato of the cranes calling to each other, sweeping over the canopy from the southwest. They made an elegant arc over the lake to land in their favorite corner, the shallows by the old "arboretum" to the west. They settled. Even from the dock, they are beautiful to watch. Their silver gray color stands in stark contrast to the dull browns and greens of the evening. Their lovely figures fit so well with the surrounding vegetation that, when still, they could be sculptures. One began stalking along the edge of the lake, lifting each leg slow and deliberate, pausing at the top before slipping toes back in the water. The mate followed ten feet behind. They came to a stop, five feet apart, and just stood quietly. Separate but together. Not touching. Not speaking. I was completely captivated by them, as I am every night they come.

After sometime watching, I began to feel uncomfortable. Like I was trying to steal a piece of something that didn't belong to me. The only thing that could make this evening ritual they share better, more precious, would be if they were truly alone. That they could share that quiet without prying, curious eyes. The feeling was persistent, so I left them quickly.

The idea of leaving the forest, of leaving this house I've come to call my "own," has been agony to come to terms with. But when I think of how much better it felt to leave the cranes their privacy, I feel slightly better. Perhaps the only thing that could improve this place would be my absence. Letting it exist free of my porch lights, my fires, my whoots and hollers as I ski the paths on dead winter nights.

So I accept that tonight is my last here. And in whatever way it is possible to thank this piece of land, I do. I thank it for helping me to grow up, for helping me understand what I need to be happy and what I don't. For making me aware of subtle changes, and simple beauty. I thank Saginaw for forcing me to learn how to sharpen tools, fix a lawn mower, and use a chainsaw. I'm grateful for all of the people I brought together here for dinners, walks, and workdays. For the lovely hikers I met walking the trails. And I am indebted to this place for the hundreds of moments I shared with my best friend Leto: cold January mornings wrapped in blankets on our futon, boat rides, hikes, and evenings on the dock with my head propped on his furry rump.

Though tomorrow ends my residency here, I will still be visiting these woods, contributing to their history with my footsteps. As a parting gift, I've planted a number of wildflowers here in the hopes that they will someday take back some land as invasive plants are removed in the years to come (the cardinal flower is doing particularly well!).

To those who have kept up with my intermittent blogging, thanks for joining the ride. And for those of you I've shared the trails with, look after them for me.


Jenny & Leto


  1. Jenny, I will always associate you with Saginaw Forest. Thank you for sharing it with us.

  2. Jenny, I am reading your final post from an airport layover lounge on a business trip. My gosh, you have brought me home just with words. I live just west of Saginaw forest. I will miss your stories. My fascination with this tract of land is intrinsically tied with these "Caretakers blogs. Thank you so much for your writings and muses on your epic stay here.