April 19: Flash Fiction Challenge

Written by Charli Mills

Charli Mills, a born buckaroo, makes literary art accessible at CarrotRanch.com. She writes about the veteran spouse experience and women forgotten to history.

April 19, 2018

I’m riding high in the dentist’s chair. This is not where I expected to be after fighting a cold-turned-sinus-infection since January. Two weeks ago, facial nerve pain drove me to find something stronger than my arsenal of herbs. That’s how I met Dr. Bob, local dentist.

Now, I’m sucking down nitrous oxide, preparing for the crack and pull of a tooth the dentist can’t save. If the sequence of age for a woman is maiden, mother, crone, I must be working on my crone’s smile now. Yet, I don’t want to be thinking about what Dr. Bob is setting up to do. As beautiful as the falling snow can be, neither do I want to be thinking about what’s falling outside the office window.

Instead, I turn my thoughts to the characters of Rock Creek. I wonder which one of them I’m going to torture with a toothache. Cobb came to mind first, maybe because I wanted to sit in this chair with my toughest character. I imagine that his wife, Mary, would try folk remedies first to ease the agony of tooth pain. But once such remedies fail, people seek the torture of extraction in desperation.

George Washington felt such desperation. History records that he had one tooth a year pulled from the time he was 22 until he had none left to pull. As children in the US, we learn early on in school that our first president wore wooden teeth. And yet this is false. Washington wore dentures of human teeth. I suppose those who extracted teeth had a side gig for creating dental wear.

Cobb would likely liquor up before letting someone yank his troublesome tooth. I’m lucky to be sitting in a near trance, daydreaming about my characters as my own procedure progresses. I wonder how much corn whiskey it would take to equal novocaine shots and laughing gas. I’m not going to test any theories. I also wonder who would pull the tooth? Likely a blacksmith who had pliers.

My thoughts drift to gentler musings, and I realize how ready I am to return to my forest trail at McLain State Park. I’m not even craving the rock-hunting, just the healing vibes of the forest. I can picture the trail as it winds through the pine trees on a ridge overlooking Lake Superior. Its scent hangs sharply in the air I imagine as warmed by afternoon sun.

Arms outstretched, feet rooted above roots, ground solid, air clean and the roar of waves crash in the distance. Now, stepping forward not in a sprint but a relaxed walk. This is Shinrin Yoku — forest bathing. First developed in Japan during the 1980s, JulesPaige introduced it to Carrot Ranch in a flash fiction. It’s healing, restorative and rejuvenating. No wonder I recline and bathe in my imagined forest.

An interesting purpose of Shinrin Yoku is

“To transform our cultural relationship to forests through fostering deeper relationships and positive experiences with forested areas.”

Two years ago, I wrote an article about the push to create a wilderness area out of a mountain range in North Idaho. The idea is that we need wild spaces, even those that might be difficult to access. The leader of the project told me that it’s enough to know wild spaces still exist.

This also makes me think of Aldo Leopold, and his essay from A Sand County Almanac called, “Land Ethic.” He argues for humans to see the land as something more than a commodity; to see it as a community to which we all belong.  He sees that we are not separate from the environment. Along with the idea of transforming our relationships to forests, or preserving wild spaces, so they exist, he acknowledges that we won’t succeed. But it remains important that we try. Leopold writes:

“We shall never achieve harmony with the land, anymore than we shall achieve absolute justice or liberty for people. In these higher aspirations the important thing is not to achieve but to strive.”

From this single dentist’s chair, I’m connected to the past and future, to the Lake Superior pines not yet free of snow, to the wilderness I’ve seen and not seen, to forests on distant shores. For a time of healing, I’m going to imagine forest bathing.

April 19, 2018, prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story about forest bathing. You can use the Japanese term, Shinrin Yoku, or you can make up your own ideas about the phrase. Go where the prompt leads.

Respond by April 24, 2018. Use the comment section below to share, read and be social. You may leave a link, pingback or story in the comments.

If you want your story published in the weekly collection, please use this form. If you want to interact with other writers, do so in the comments (yes, that means sharing your story TWICE — once for interaction and once for publication). Rules are here.

***

Free Among the Trees by Charli Mills

Gabriella tapped the last spigot. She caught the trickle of clear sap in a wooden bucket. Daughter of a French trader and an Ottawan mother, she belonged to no one. She kept to the forests outside the ports and mining towns, trading maple syrup with the Black Robes at L’Anse. The forest kept her company, bathed her in its healing embrace. The Black Robes enticed she could become a neophyte, and claimed gospels in her native tongue. They didn’t know she could read her father’s books and already chose her classic path – she was happy as a forest nymph.

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233 Comments

  1. Frank Hubeny

    Shinrin Yoku by Frank Hubeny

    While forest bathing Michael saw her. He would say she wasn’t there except she was and then his breath grew deeper. He didn’t understand why he walked for almost a mile angry on this beautiful trail, in this mysterious quiet. The traffic had long ago turned to a hum and then it turned completely off. Why was he angry?

    She said her name was Diana. She knew he didn’t understand what she meant. He was one of the smart ones caught in his head where robots were more real than people. And so she spoke more slowly, “Goddess Diana.”

    • Charli Mills

      Future meets classical past! I enjoyed your take on Sinrin Yoku, Frank!

      • Frank Hubeny

        Thank you, Charli!

    • lisarey1990

      Really creative and interesting post. Enjoyed it.

      • Frank Hubeny

        Thank you!

      • Frank Hubeny

        I hope she doesn’t turn him into something or other. Thank you!

    • Liz H

      He heard her and felt her, long before he saw her…Shinrin Yoku.

      • Frank Hubeny

        That’s true. Good point. Thank you, Liz!

    • anuragbakhshi

      These new-age humans are extremely slow, i must say 🙂

      • Frank Hubeny

        Yes, they are. Thank you!

  2. Miriam Hurdle

    Hi Charli, I admire you to be “relaxed” in the dentist chair enough to allow the wide and free association. I was in the dentist chair too often, but I was too nervous even though I couldn’t feel any pain in my nerves. Still, I could only focus on wondering what the dentist was doing to me…

    • Charli Mills

      I’ve trained my body to be still, but I don’t think it’s as good as relaxed! I did chuckle to myself as my way to deal with the panic was to find my characters and think about their stories. Dentists after probably great people but experiences with them are not so fun.

      • Miriam Hurdle

        love your way to deal with panic by staying still. It’s better than putting additional stress in the less desirable situations. I think it’s good! <3

      • Charli Mills

        Miriam, I’ve become more interested over the years in “mindfulness.” Last year my eldest introduced me to an app I know subscribe to on my phone called Calm. I think it’s about $30 for a year. It has daily meditations that are based on following the breath (in, and out). There are deeper meditations, too, including sleep and stress. What I really like is the focused music! I often use that for when I have to work on a project and not get distracted. Because of your comment, I thought it might be of interest to you! <3

    • Charli Mills

      Thanks, Anita & Jaye!

      • jenanita01

        Any time, Charli!

  3. Reena Saxena

    OMG! I am going through this cold and dental treatent thing, and it is not a pretty combo. Nor is the dentist’s chair a beauty parlor, where you can relax while getting a facial done. Forest bathing, yeah …. let me give it a shot.

    • Charli Mills

      Reena, I have heard from so many other people about this cold leading to sinus and dental issues. Crazy! Ha, ha! Nope, those two chairs are different! Not relaxing at all. But forest bathing offers greater promise.

    • Charli Mills

      Thanks, Di! I enjoy your ability to use verse in flash fiction!

      • pensitivity101

        The word count can sometimes throw me, but it depends if I have too few or too many at the end of my original musings for tweaking!

      • Charli Mills

        I wondered how poets managed the word count. Thanks for that insight, Di.

    • Liz H

      Such a lovely romp in the woods!

  4. papershots

    beautiful prompt and beautiful post. so true. see the land as a community to which we all belong. thanks for sharing 🙂

    • Charli Mills

      I like that idea of seeing the land as community rather than commodity. Thanks!

      • papershots

        Couldn’t agree more. I wish all of us saw it as that.

  5. Norah

    Oh, the dreaded dentist’s chair and cruel extractions. I too think of myself in a forest while in the dentist’s chair – picture myself lying back listening to the babbling of a little brook, the breeze whispering in the trees and the flutter of a butterfly’s wings. It definitely helps to calm, imagining being anywhere else. I hope the extraction went well and you heal quickly.
    No toothache in the flash, just a happy forest nymph. And who wouldn’t want to be one? I think Gabriella has made the right choice.
    I hope you get to forest bathe for real, not just in your imagination, soon.

    • Charli Mills

      Norah, I could have used your imagination for a guided meditation! Healing is going well, and I’m going on an Earth Day retreat for the inner hero’s journey (how could I resist) and the wellness center is on Lake Superior. I’m so exited! Not quite forest bathing but close enough until more of this snow melts. Have a great weekend!

      • Norah

        That retreat sounds amazing, Charli. How I wish I could join you. Maybe I will. I’ll just meditate my way alongside you. When you feel something gentle brush your arm, you’ll know I’m with you. 🙂

      • Charli Mills

        I will watch for your presence, Norah! Ah, how wonderful it would be to have you there. I’ll keep dreaming of future writing retreats.

      • Charli Mills

        Oh, Norah, I hope I haven’t put you in a serial state of mind!

      • Norah

        It could be a serious serial state of mind. 🙂

      • Jules

        I’m far behind on reading – I enjoyed your story.
        Serials can be a good thing…

      • Norah

        You an me both then, Jules. Thanks for your kind words.

  6. Jennie

    I love how you can turn on your imagination and tune out the dentist chair.

    • Charli Mills

      I’m glad I can take my imagination with me for such situations, Jennie! It’s a multi-purpose tool.

      • Jennie

        And a terrific tool!

      • Charli Mills

        One teachers help to instill. 🙂

  7. papershots

    Unspecified, Unseen, Undocumented.

    A wrinkle on the surface of the water, while the breeze also stirs the top of what looks like wheat but it’s not – there was a book in a village shop, Companion to the Flora of the Lakes: one would know now, had the book been bought. Photos; Underexposed, overexposed. There’s a majestic tree, its trunk half in water, its branches shading a corner of this little bay, green berries, red berries, white tiny flowers, and two wild ducks (approximation necessary) swimming by, their little heads back and forth, the water parted in triangles whose sides will always vary.

    https://papershots.org/2018/04/20/unspecified-unseen-undocumented/

    • Charli Mills

      Your title leads me to ponder the adage, “If a tree falls in the forest, does it make a sound?” Every moment has a snapshot and creates a disturbance in time and space even if we are not there to capture it. Ultimately, I think this is why wild spaces matter, whether we go or not. Beautiful flash!

      • papershots

        Agree. And yes, now that I think about it, it does recall the adage you’ve mentioned, which is also one of the strangest philosophical questions ever put forward…

      • Charli Mills

        When you think about the adage, it is a strange one.

  8. Teresa Grabs

    Forest Bathing

    Jason awoke still smiling. The trees, the fresh air, the cool breeze faded. Contentment and peace lingered until defeated by reality. His morning routine is nothing more than a routine. His day is state planned for maximum efficiency. Nothing more, nothing less. Slipping into his black pants and gray shirt issued by the state, he longed to see the trees. Leaving his state provided compartment, putting on his face mask and stepping into the never-ending heat, he longed for fresh air and the cool breeze. Looking around at the bleak city, he longed to bathe in the forest again.

    https://tvgwriting.wordpress.com/2018/04/20/forest-bathing/

    • Charli Mills

      Teresa, the longing of your character brings to mind a dystopian near-future. I often wonder, is it better to have known and lost forests, or never know what they were? Thanks for sharing your flash!

      • Teresa Grabs

        Thanks!

    • D. Avery @shiftnshake

      We went in a similar direction I think. Beyond 1984 for sure. Well done.

    • Caitlin Gramley

      I love dystopian stories! Great job!

    • Charli Mills

      Welcome to Carrot Ranch! The first time you respond, I have to approve the comment. You are good to go now! Thank for joining us!

      • Teresa Grabs

        Thanks for letting me join.

      • Charli Mills

        All writers welcome at the Ranch! We try to be careful because of spam, but one time we did publish a story from a spammer because it was hilarious.

    • Liz H

      And hey, to make sure you get into Charli’s compilation of all responses, don’t forget to submit with the form in the blog above. I almost did! (Waves hello and welcome)

      • Teresa Grabs

        I think I did, but I don’t remember 🙁

      • Liz H

        The form will have changed to display what you submitted–(cuz I forget, too) 😉

      • Charli Mills

        Thanks, Liz! Teresa got hers in the collection!

    • Charli Mills

      Thanks, Jo! I loved the gift you brought to the prompt!

    • Liz H

      This is why we say “Salt of the Earth”! Lovely!

      • PTSD Gal

        Thank you dear 🙂

    • Caitlin Gramley

      I love this haibun story! Great job.

      • PTSD Gal

        Thank you, dear 🙂

  9. Jules

    Charli,

    Even in the cold I explored the trail around William’s Lake in Massachusetts.
    While I like my home, the hotel room could only provide so much and I just had to get out (sometimes) even in the cold! But I did bundle up. And If all the trees had been in bloom I may not have gotten some of the photos I did take.

    I like your flash. I think I could be happy being a wood nymph, but by a water source… Oh, wait… I’ve got the creek and a back yard full of trees… maybe I am? … just two prompts in this 99 word haibun:

    Landis Woods

    If the earth were to have a birthday party, what season
    Would it be held in? Without question, my belief would
    be spring. Every day a new gift is unwrapped. A new
    birdsong composed. Just bathe in the forest, perhaps
    healing through Shinrin Yoku.

    This season, this spring so late in arriving in the north,
    this year – I plan on walking through a preserved wood.
    One that leads from one highway to another – preserving
    a unique hidden space for local wildlife.

    Just to pass through observing. And to count blessings.

    celebrating life
    seemingly ageless, Mother
    blessed by Father Time

    ©JP/dh

    Landis Woods Manheim Township, Lancaster, PA
    Acquired originally in 1989, and the second parcel in 1993, Landis Woods at 69.9 acres, is one of the Township’s largest tracts of natural undeveloped land. The park has its own unique management plan which calls for the natural preservation of this land and heritage. Within Landis Woods is the Boettcher House Museum, which houses a small museum and nature center, as well the Landis Woods Performing Arts Center. The Boettcher House also offers a place to have meetings, banquets and small parties. The park offers passive recreation with hiking paths and a native planting area that is now a model for native restoration projects.

    • Charli Mills

      Birthdays are arriving later this year, but I love your idea of how spring is like a birthday party with many gifts. Ha! Jules, I think you are a wood nymph and I understand they like water, too (just like trees). Thanks for sharing the history of Landis Woods, too. I find such untouched space to be sacred places. Minnesota does an excellent job of creating parks and natural spaces within their urban and suburban areas. There is a similar state park south of the Twin Cities where a particular wildflower blooms in spring. It’s the only place. Our environment is fragile and yet resilient. Like people! Thanks for the wooded celebration!

    • D. Avery @shiftnshake

      How about if every season, everyday is Earth Birth day, always renewed?
      “Celebrating life”? Here is a birthday present for you, Earth Mother, a word, because I know you like them: fluvioterrestrial.

      • Jules

        OOOh… nice.

        Yep, it would be nice if everyone took the time to be celebrate life. It annoys me to no end to take a walk and find litter.

      • D. Avery @shiftnshake

        Litter is bad, yes, but look at it like this… at least the litterbugs were outside, on the path as it were. Baby steps leading to true celebration.

  10. Liz H

    Okay. Let it be said: I love nitrous…cuz it’s too difficult to fit a forest in the dentist’s office!

    • Charli Mills

      Ha, ha! I seriously wanted to take home a tank with me!

  11. denmaniacs4

    The Wet Woods

    “Yes!” I announce. “This will do the trick.”

    “Be careful, sweetie. You’re parking too close. I won’t be able to open the door.”

    “They make these stupid Park parking stalls way too small,” I mutter.

    My stress is ratcheting up a notch.

    “Think twigs,” she suggests. “Little bits of scattered stems. Resting on the forest floor. The quiet forest floor.”

    “You’ll have to get out my side. Sorry.”

    “No problem. Oh, look. Is that our group?”

    “Two bus loads. Nope. Three! They look…quite international.”

    “It’s the peak season, I guess. Well, lets get this over with. Visualize, sweetie. Visualize.”

    • Charli Mills

      Ah, the stress of getting to the overcrowded designated wild areas! You have expressed the irony well, Bill. I felt that way about Zion and while I enjoyed the massive sand pillars it wasn’t until the tourists left in winter that appreciated actually walking through the national park.

    • D. Avery @shiftnshake

      Ha! Well done. Just the idea of a parking lot should be incongruous with wilderness, but there you have it.

    • papershots

      I really like this piece. The pace of the dialogue and the remote reference to forest bathing, which is, strangely enough, the protagonist of the story anyway.

    • Liz H

      I want my Nature to be populated by non-humans, too!

    • anuragbakhshi

      Two, no three busloads of international tourists? They have my deepest sympathies 🙂

  12. rugby843

    I miss the forest very much as I listen to city noise outside my window

    • Charli Mills

      I hope you have some forest remnants such as birds and trees to bring you some connection. It’s a deep longing, isn’t it?

      • rugby843

        Yes, I’m afraid it is. My apartment is decorated with birds, an odd pine cone, but it’s not the same ????

      • Charli Mills

        Not quite the same, but still a connection.

    • Charli Mills

      Thanks, Ritu! I’m feeling better each day and have started to regain my energy back. I laughed over your forest bathing interrupted!

      • Ritu

        Glad you are feeling better and that I could give you a giggle!

      • Charli Mills

        A healing last from the forest!

    • D. Avery @shiftnshake

      At least they are out there. But yeah, good bathing gone bad for her.

      • Ritu

        Just a tad!

    • Liz H

      Oh dear! Happens more often than we’d like~~

      • Ritu

        ????

    • Charli Mills

      Thanks, Joelle!

    • D. Avery @shiftnshake

      A 99 word best selling twist on the twisted prompt. A cautionary tale about having it all.

      • floridaborne

        And that sums it up well. 🙂

  13. floridaborne

    I’ve had so much dental work, I sit in the chair, have the shots, and wait for it to be over. Laughing gas actually make me just the opposite. 🙂

    Don’t drink through a straw for several days. Eat soft foods for about a week, and take care of yourself. It takes a few weeks for the hole to fill in.

    • Charli Mills

      I’m so happy the nitrous worked! Not sure I could have wandered through my imagination without it. Thanks for the advice (you explained more than my dentist, though curiously, his note said not to smoke or drink pop, which I don’t do at all). I’m enjoying all the soft foods — lots of soup and mashed potatoes. Lots of Talenti Raspberry sorbet, too!

  14. tearsofbloodinmyheart

    Nathan checks his ruck sack. Snacks? tick. Pen? tick. Notebook? tick. His hand rummages deeper and finds a dried apple core, a paper clip some crushed tissues, a dog biscuit and a tiny teddy bear key ring with the padlock for his bike attached to it. He shoves his hand into the front flap and digs around until he finds what he’s looking for tucked into a gritty corner.
    He lies down, the grass warm under his hands. Its then that his world comes alive.
    A mossy forest bathed in sunlight visible only through his Magic Toys magnifying glass.

    • Charli Mills

      Lovely flash! And welcome to Carrot Ranch!

    • D. Avery @shiftnshake

      A well prepared camper indeed. Delightful.

    • Liz H

      Magic through the eyes of a child!

    • anuragbakhshi

      Awwwe, that was so cute.

    • Caitlin Gramley

      Great take on the prompt. I used to imagine what it would look like to ants under moss and grass when I was a kid. Mini worlds under giant’s feet.

    • Charli Mills

      Thanks, Jack!

    • Liz H

      Brings back days of family sail trips and bathing in Lake Superior, never jumping in too far away from the boat’s ladder. Like a Viking!!

    • Charli Mills

      Doing much better, thank you, Michael. You enjoy your weekend, too! I’m going on an Earth Day Retreat Sunday! Forest bathing, but walking in the snow, yet.

    • D. Avery @shiftnshake

      One brest be careful walking in the woods!

      • Michael

        Always. Keeping abreast of things can lead to discomfort.

      • Charli Mills

        😀

    • Charli Mills

      You bring a greater dimension to the prompt with a Japanese setting. Thank you, Miriam!

      • Miriam Hurdle

        You’re welcome, Charli. I wrote a long story and trimmed to 99 words!

      • Charli Mills

        That’s a great process to practice, Miriam! It will help with any kind of revision task you have to do.

  15. D. Avery @shiftnshake

    Turned Around

    “Ever go off inta the woods, Pal?”
    “Course.”
    “Ever git lost?”
    “Jist turned around.”
    “Were ya scared?”
    “Naw. It don’t matter not knowin’ ‘zactly where ya are, long as ya know where ya ain’t. Ain’t no place I’d ruther be ‘an in the woods.”
    “‘Parently the Japanese developed goin’ inta the woods in the eighties.”
    “De-veloped woods walkin’?”
    “It’s called forest bathing. We oughta lead a group inta the woods, Pal.”
    “I bathe alone.”
    “S’posed ta make ya happier.”
    “Hmmph.”
    “More connected. Hey, where ya goin’?”
    “Cain’t hear ya Kid, bad connection.”
    “Where ya headed?!”
    “Inta the woods. Alone.”

    https://shiftnshake.wordpress.com/ranch-yarns/

    • Charli Mills

      Ha, I’m delighted Pal likes bathing alone! Fun interaction between these two. I hope you are getting some bathing in, too, of the forest kind.

      • D. Avery @shiftnshake

        More slopes than soap. Waterless camp, still too cold. How cool is that? But a walk in the woods is warming.

      • Charli Mills

        Nothing like a warming walk in the woods!

    • anuragbakhshi

      Ha ha ha.

  16. Juliet

    Hi Charli and her Angels,
    Another lovely post. I knew nothing about forest bathing whatsoever so I went and asked my friend Google for some information and then came up with this little story……

    Oh, My Love, My Darling

    He stood behind her and wrapped his weightless arms around her shoulders.

    She didn’t react so he placed his cheek against hers and felt the dampness of her tears on his greying stubble.

    When would she ever stop crying?

    She was reading an article about forest bathing, something she had often advised him to do with her. She said it could help his coronary problems but stupidly he had never wanted to go.

    He would stay entwined with her all night for he feared it would be impossible come tomorrow, the day they put his body in the coffin.

    *

    PS Singing the title may make everything clear…

    • Charli Mills

      Tragically beautiful, Juliet. His spirit lingers with her, yet.

      • Juliet

        Thanks, Charli. Yes, forever. ??

    • Liz H

      Very sweet! <3

    • anuragbakhshi

      Can love be more eternal than that?

      • Juliet

        I don’t think so. ??

  17. Charli Mills

    April 22 is Earth Day, and I wish you all a peaceful and contemplative one! I’m off to Avatar Vs. Hero-Self Retreat on Sunday.

    “We will gather at 10AM and have a whole day to spend with discovering the many aspects of self as well as taking time for ourselves to replenish our stores from such a rough winter/spring with spa time, time to gaze and hike (potentially) around the lakeshore, a healthy lunch and good company.”

    The retreat is held at the LaRose Wellness Retreat (http://larosewellnessretreat.com/) along the shores of Lake Superior which are yet iced over. I may get to witness spring break up! I will be doing a bit of Shirin Yoku, as well.

    Happy Earth Day!

    • Juliet

      Happy Earth Day to you too! ????

      • Charli Mills

        Cheers to the earth we all share!

    • Shallow Reflections

      What a wonderful way to spend Earth Day! I’ve been outside soaking up the sun and I did some forest bathing, too. It was rejuvenating!

      • Charli Mills

        I did all kinds of bathing today — hot tub, sun on the deck, and birch forest bathing. Feels good, doesn’t it?

  18. lisarey1990

    A really beautiful post.

    • Charli Mills

      Thanks, Lisa! I enjoyed your unexpected take on the prompt!

    • Charli Mills

      I’m feeling much better, Thank you, Raymond! I had a similar experience to your poem on Sunday. It’s healing to reconnect outside.

      • goroyboy

        Glad to hear it Charli 🙂 take care

  19. Peregrine Arc

    Turn Back

    I bathe in the forest, hidden under a canopy. Jaguars, grizzlies and reindeer approach, bringing the jungle, the forest and the tundra with each step. I eat a banana for breakfast; some nuts and berries for lunch. For dinner, a polar bear offers me fish.

    A crane approaches and pecks the air above my head deliberately.

    “This is not yours, human. You have not taken care of any of it. Take your punishment and go.”

    I stir and exit the forest, my clothes pinching tightly around me. It appears we’re still banned and setting fires.

    https://peregrinearc.com/2018/04/22/flash-fiction-april-19th/#more-338

    Thanks for reading and thank you for the wonderful writing prompt.

    • D. Avery @shiftnshake

      There’s some magic at work in this story. When all animals of all continents are telling you something, it’s time to listen. Nice take.

      • Peregrine Arc

        I thought so, too. Thank you. 🙂

    • Charli Mills

      Arc, I liked how you blended different environments that came together but show the consequences of human actions.

      • Peregrine Arc

        Thanks, Charli! 🙂

  20. Annecdotist

    Sorry about your tooth, Charli, but, as you say at least you are able to access better dental care than your characters. Much as I appreciate a mindful woodland walk – especially in this mini heatwave in the UK with Sherwood Forest on the doorstep – I’m sceptical about calling it bathing.
    So I’ve submitted to flash fiction pieces:
    Maid Marian’s #metoo moment takes the idea literally Is the forest enchanted, or the company? is about a rare moment of closeness to a parent in childhood.
    Plus I’ve posted a review of a novel entitled Tale of a Tooth
    http://annegoodwin.weebly.com/1/post/2018/04/tale-of-a-tooth-by-allie-rogers-plus-a-forest-flash-or-two.html

    • D. Avery @shiftnshake

      Double like. Two great flashes! And a book review. Triple like.

    • Charli Mills

      I was thinking about your moors, Anne. There are no forests there, correct? Treeless? Perhaps that is why you are skeptical of bathing! Ah, Maid Marian lives a tale as old as voyeurs. Great title! And how appropriate — Tale of a Tooth!

      • Annecdotist

        The moors are to the west of where I live, Sherwood Forest to the east, although both a drive away. Our moors aren’t very high, so they can harbour a few lone trees, but generally I can walk through forest on the way up to them. Everything is on a much smaller scale here than in the US, so a day walk can take me through a range of habitats.

  21. Shallow Reflections

    Only you could turn a trip to the dentist into such a deep and entertaining story, Charli. I love your writing. Here’s this week’s story.

    Missing the point

    “What’s sitting under that tree?” Chester said, peering through the front window at his neighbor’s yard. “Is it one of them weird ceramic gnomes? What’s that dad-blamed woman up to now?”

    His wife, Ruth, said, “Myra is practicing a new kind of meditation called, ‘forest bathing.’ She says it relieves stress.”

    “That sounds like one of them cockamamie things a tree hugger like her would do.”

    “She said taking in the forest atmosphere is preventive medicine in Japan.”

    “Don’t she know she lives in Maine? And I can’t see no forest. All I see is a bunch of trees.”

    https://www.shallowreflections.com/missing-the-point/

    • D. Avery @shiftnshake

      Yep, he’s right. I recently saw fire wood referred to as a utility in a town report, like water and electricity. Wood smoke is a forest atmosphere, right?

      • Shallow Reflections

        We have a lot of ‘forest atmosphere’ here in Maine. I love the smell of wood smoke. We may be having a bit of that in our back yard while we sit under the trees. All kinds of ways to ‘forest bathe.’

    • Liz H

      Can’t see the forest for the trees?
      (I saw what you did there! Awesome 😀 )

      • Shallow Reflections

        Thank you, Liz! I am so glad you got it! You are the first to comment on this.

      • Liz H

        You ARE clever!

    • Charli Mills

      Your humor is so perfectly pitched, Molly! It sounds like the short street we live on with those in their 80s and others in their 20s!

      • Shallow Reflections

        Thank you, Charli. Chester is roughly based on my neighbor and Myra is my heroine and the person I want to be. Haha!

  22. D. Avery @shiftnshake

    https://shiftnshake.wordpress.com/2018/04/22/stark/

    Stark

    Serena stopped often to breathe deeply, filling her lungs, her heart, her soul with the spruce incensed air. She loved walking this familiar path among the trees, but quickened her pace as she approached the high mountain meadow, delighting as always in the waving grass, the colorful wildflowers nodding the way to the small glacial lake cupped by the snowcapped mountain peaks. Serena drank it in. The guide suggested other experiences, but Serena always chose to return here.
    “Serena, time’s up. Remove the apparatus and step out of the capsule.”
    Sighing, Serena left the virtual wilderness, returned to reality.

    • anuragbakhshi

      Awwe, but I guess we all will become more and more dependent upon such apparatuses as time progresses 🙁

    • Charli Mills

      Stark, indeed. Every time I see technology encroaching upon nature, I shudder a little.

  23. Pete

    A book in the dirt. The words in the Earth. Composting cultures. Love and life. Sentiments and sentences. Fragments and fiction. Maps. Guides. Directions. Been there, done that. Tales of wars waged. Quill-stained pages written feverishly under a dancing flicker. A self-portrait. An autobiography. Selfie in longhand.

    A book in the dirt. The wounds of battle spilling back into the soil. A broken heart crying out from a broken bind. A random thought: How her eyes were the green of a forest after a good rain.

    Digital media. Littered literature. The many careless sins of man. Well-written. Rarely heeded.

    • Liz H

      Like a walking meditation, thoughts flickering like light and shadow.
      Wow indeed.

    • goroyboy

      No doubt “Looks good on paper”—

    • Charli Mills

      Such an ode to books and the best kind of forest bathing beneath the canopy of pages you express. Lovely, Pete!

  24. D. Avery @shiftnshake

    Hero’s Journey on Earth Day

    “Pal, yer back.”
    “Yep. Why’s it so quiet roun’ here?”
    “Guess ever one’s still off huggin’ trees.”
    “Even Shorty?”
    “Heard like, if she kin git her forest shoveled out.”
    “Jeez. If any one kin shovel out a forest it’s Shorty. She’s a Titan.”
    “I’ll say. Did ya happen ta catch her interview at Literary Titan? She done the Ranch real proud.”
    “Yep, sure did.”
    “Whatdya think Shorty’s inner hero is?”
    “I reckon Shorty’s a buckaroo through and through. True ta herself and ta the Carrot Ranch Community. Boldly going where her inner prompts lead.”
    “Heroic leader of Buckaroo Nation!”

    https://literarytitan.com/2018/04/21/congress-of-the-rough-writers-flash-fiction-anthology/

    P.S. Titans were born of Heaven and Earth, Uranus and Gaia

    • Charli Mills

      Thank you for the education and link to Titans!

    • Jules

      Thanks for the link…
      I learned some things I didn’t know. 😉

  25. Nicole

    Cleansing Chaos

    Life is placid outside Joy’s woodland cabin as she takes her morning walk. Nuthatches seem unthreatened by nuclear missiles. Chickadees show no interest in crime or collusion. Blue jays apparently don’t know the job market is shrinking. Woodpeckers aren’t worried that stocks plummet and robins aren’t fretting about local or national scandals.  This verdant world teems with new life. Leaf buds swell on the tips of tree branches. A spotted fawn appears in a bed of wildflowers. Joy bathes in the misty forest, cleansing her heart of clutter, strengthening herself to resist for one more day humanly created chaos.

    • Liz H

      Joy is aptly named, as a forest spirit blessed by her surrounds!

      • Nicole

        Thank you!

    • goroyboy

      Beautiful Nicole… 🙂

      • Nicole

        Thank you!

    • D. Avery @shiftnshake

      These birds have something worth tweeting.

      • Nicole

        ????

      • Charli Mills

        Ha, ha! Good one, D.!

    • anuragbakhshi

      You go Joy, at least one of us deserves to ‘win’

    • Charli Mills

      Ah, Nicole, it felt cleansing just reading your flash. That’s what we all need, especially in the US.

      • Nicole

        Thank you, Charli. We do need a break soon! Everyone I know is stressed.

  26. Irene Waters 19 Writer Memoirist

    Hope your tooth (or spot where it was) is feeling better. It was the done thing in Australia in the 20s to 40’s to have all your teeth out whether you needed to or not. The aim was to have a wonderful set of pearly white choppers created. No-one realised the headache that would create later down the track as one got older. Now we are encouraged to keep as many teeth as we can. It is the elderly that keep our dentists in business as youngsters don’t have fillings anymore (or not many of them do).
    Your flash had me dreaming of maple syrup and nymphs. Lovely.
    Mine this week https://irenewaters19.com/2018/04/23/forest-bathing-99-word-flash-fiction/
    Hope you get this and my form – it was a little bit different to the other times.

    • Charli Mills

      Irene, I can’t fathom pulling all the teeth. I understand it breaks down the jaw bone. Not a pleasant thought. Dentistry is not pleasant at all, but I can say this is the first dentist I’ve ever felt comfortable with, so maybe I’ll actually go back. Maple syrup must have its own nymphs! Is that product available in Australia? I love my maple syrup every morning in coffee. I got your form. In what wy was it different? I hope I didn’t miss a step! But I did get it!

      • Irene Waters 19 Writer Memoirist

        Dentists have changed since I was a kid. Then they were chambers of torture, to be dreaded and avoided. Now it is like a stroll in the woods – depending on the picture they have above you on the ceiling. I know someone who had all their top teeth removed and had planned on doing the bottom as well but the pain from the top was so bad they never went back for the bottom and today feel a great relief that they didn’t as no end of problems with the gums shrinking. Yes we get maple syrup here – the best is Canadian maple syrup. I don’t think we produce any in this country of our own but we certainly consume it – particularly now healthy diets suggest it rather than sugar for cooking. I worked out what the problem was – I think I had been sent to reader and you can’t do it from there. Just me having a seniors moment.

    • Liz H

      There’s always a twist! 😀

      • Shallow Reflections

        Hahaha! You had me fooled on this one. Very funny and clever. -Molly

      • anuragbakhshi

        Thank you so much Liz. One of these days, I’m going to write a straight-forward feel-good tale, and its biggest twist would be that it would have no twist 🙂

      • Liz H

        😮 😀

      • anuragbakhshi

        Thank you so much

    • Charli Mills

      Hola, Anurag! Oh, what a terrific modern tale of skinny-dipping! Yes, you would fool us all by not including a twist. But your twists are delicious!

      • anuragbakhshi

        Awwe, thank you so much Charli.

  27. LucciaGray

    Hi Charli!
    My dentist is a really lovely man, but I hate him. I can’t help cringing every time I see him and I feel so bad about it, because he’s so pleasant and patient.
    I use your technique a lot, when I’m in, or witness, a tough situation, I try to imagine what my characters would do, or how it might become a flash or even a poem! It does help to take my mind off the distress and make it all seem useful!
    I loved your flash about Gabriela the forest nymph. I actually published a poem yesterday on my blog about a nymph, for my daughter, after taking a walk along a path by the river with her.
    It’s a lovely topic. I love walking in woodlands or in the countryside in general. It’s definitely energising. Thanks for intoroducing me to the topic of Forest Bathing. I’d never heard of it, although I had practiced it unknowingly!
    This time, I’ve gone back to Victorian England and imagined one of Charles Dickens’ last twelve mile walks in Rochester, while he was writing The Mystery of Edwin Drood, his last unfinished novel.
    https://lucciagray.com/2018/04/23/carrot-ranch-flashfiction-forest-bathing-99words-mondayblogs/

    • Shallow Reflections

      Wonderful flash fiction and enjoyed the bit about Dickens and the photos of your walks. Left a comment on your blog. -Molly

      • LucciaGray

        Thank you, Molly,????

    • Charli Mills

      Ah, Lucy, now you have a name for all the lovely walks you take! I find the outdoors so alluring for walks and your countryside is beautiful. It must be hard to be a dentist! Good to know you also use the “what would my characters do” technique. It certainly offers distance and perhaps a distraction. But I enjoy where you go when you walk in your historical characters’ shoes.

  28. susansleggs

    Oh the dentist. I’m there too much. I don’t think I daydream, I’m too busy telling myself the drill is just noise. Glad you are healing well.
    I have always found peace in the woods, just never knew why or that it had a real name.

    Forest Bathing

    Where do you go to find peace
    I go to the woods
    The city sounds are far away
    There are no other voices
    The rays of sun filter through the branches
    Birds flit from tree to tree
    Squirrels chase each other
    And pussy willows are soft grey
    The stream babbles slowly by
    And if I sit still long enough
    A deer stops by to drink
    The rabbit outruns the fox
    And the trillium bloom pure white
    Leeks and fiddleheads can be had for lunch
    If you know where to look
    Spring in the forest
    My favorite time of year

    • Shallow Reflections

      I love it, Susan. And I am happy to find someone who knows what fiddleheads are. They are a spring treat here in Maine, a delicacy. And we see deer feeding every morning at the edge of our woods, coming up to our lawn. The only thing I would add to our forest bathing scene are wild turkeys! They were doing the wild turkey mating game in our yard today. Crazy critters!

      • susansleggs

        Thanks Molly. We have turkeys behind our fence I can hear occasionally and see when there is a coating of snow. I’ve been eating fiddleheads since I was a small girl.

    • Nicole

      Your lovely imagery takes the reader right there. So peaceful!

      • susansleggs

        Thank you Nicole

      • susansleggs

        A fiddlehead is a young fern plant. When it sprouts it looks like the head of a fiddle (or violin). They are a bit bitter, but tender enough to eat before they unfurl.

      • Irene Waters 19 Writer Memoirist

        We must have them here because I can see what you have described. I’ve never heard of anybody eating them although could be bush tucker. Do you just pluck them and eat them or do you cook them first?

    • Charli Mills

      Just a noise! I think it takes the imagination of a writer to pull it off, Susan. A beautiful poem to bathe all our worries away. And I love pickled fiddleheads!

  29. Lisa A. Listwa

    I don’t mind dentist visits (well, except for that one root canal disaster), but somehow having a tooth pulled feels so…violating. Hope your pain has been alleviated.
    Love the prompt – a lovely idea that has had me considering various options for the flash. Hard to think of forest bathing when we had snow and sleet again just last week. Today, though, it finally feels like spring and I can see tiny green buds on the tree just outside my window. So…forest bathing…perhaps!

    • Charli Mills

      Yes! It does feel that way. You made me think beyond dentistry, and how violated those in the Civil War must have felt getting limbs removed. I’m so glad we have “modern” medicine! And it has me bouncing back. Ha! Yes, the weather has made it challenging.

  30. Liz H

    A little BOTS, because Sun-Silly is also part of Forest Bathing for us Northlanders. Cheers!

    Spring’s Assurance

    Spring is late, delayed by a blizzard that left two feet of soggy snow, making my front stair’s existence a Schrödinger’s cat. When late April sun emerged, so did we.
    [Continue ]

    • Shallow Reflections

      Spring assurance and renewal. I feel like such a voyeur, and yet I can’t look away!

    • Charli Mills

      Ah, a delightful return to spring Northland style!

    • Charli Mills

      A sweet and creative take on the idea of forest bathing! Leave it to an imp…!

    • Charli Mills

      I hope you are feeling better, Heather! I like where you took the prompt, playing with the idea.

    • Jules

      I think I read that article about goat yoga in my morning paper!
      Hope you are felling better!

  31. paulamoyer

    Girl Scout Shower

    By Paula Moyer

    At Girl Scout camp, Jean’s Girl Scout leader showed the girls how to shower in the woods. It looked – well, unreliable.

    “This tin can has nail holes,” she explained and pointed. It hung by a string on a tree branch. “When you take your shower, fill this pitcher with water at the pump, and pour it in.”

    The girls watched the demonstration, how water spit out in arcs from the can. “Stand under the can. Use the soap.” Beside the can, also on a string. “The trees are your shower curtain.”

    Jean shivered under the can. Cold. Naked. Glorious.

      • paulamoyer

        Thank you, Irene!

    • Charli Mills

      A right of passage, that first Girl Scout camping trip. You really captured its meaning, especially in the last three words.

      • paulamoyer

        Thank you, Charli!

    • Liz H

      Oh, I hear ya!
      I lover the cover cartoon on your blog site, wrangling kids & laundry, in jammies and kitchen with only a cup of for for sustenance!

    • Charli Mills

      Thanks for joining us, Caitlin!

  32. Reena Saxena

    FINALLY CONVINCED

    “Why forest-bathing?” My botanist beau loved the idea of this impromptu trip, but was not convinced of the nomenclature- Shinrin Yoku

    “Because we do not have clean air to breathe in, in our citadels of development….”

    “The trees have purified the world for years, wherever they were allowed to take roots. We left them to grow in isolated patches called forests, and are now forced to take refuge there.”

    “Every tree has its day.”

    “And so do we. I’ll show you the cottage I plan to set up our home in, after we are married.”

    Life was sheer bliss.

    • Charli Mills

      Trees had a greater purpose in our lives at one time, and now we’ve isolated them. Yet still, they draw us in.

      • Reena Saxena

        They will, as long as they help to sustain life.

  33. Charli Mills

    Thanks, Hugh!

  34. Liz H

    Absolutely! You can’t come back if you never leave…

  35. Charli Mills

    Thanks, Patrick!

  36. Liz H

    A wonderful, rolling frolic!

  37. Charli Mills

    Thanks, Chelsea!

  38. Jules

    Thank you for the background history.

  39. Liz H

    Your photos were amazing, as well!

  40. Charli Mills

    Nice cauldron, Sarah!

  41. Charli Mills

    Thanks, Geoff!

  42. Charli Mills

    Thanks!

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

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