November 29, 2022

I have had a glorious two weeks in the Wisconsin northern woods.  The weather for the most part has been warm (into the 40s and 50s) and sunny, and my knee has been able to tolerate longer and longer hikes.

Before leaving California, I had an ozone injection into my knee.   Without known adverse side effects, ozone can stimulate joint repair, reduce inflammation, and may even promote the growth of new cartilage.  Ozone is an alternative treatment and is not covered by most insurance.  It’s quite expensive, so I made sure I did my homework before taking the plunge.   I found solid scientific evidence that backs up ozone’s efficacy.  Now I have my own experiences to back up what I found in the literature.  I can hike!

I am staying in the house where I grew up.  When my parents bought this place in the early 50s, they were surrounded by miles of pristine wilderness.  During an era when kids didn’t have to be constantly monitored or plugged into structured activities, my siblings and I were free to roam wild.  I recall my brothers actually building a log cabin once in the woods.  As an adult, one brother attempted to give my 10-year-old nephew a jackknife for Christmas.  The child’s mother, my sister-in-law (from Chicago) balked, “It’s too dangerous!”

My brother retorted that at 10, he not only had a jackknife, he also owned a BB-gun and walked around with a hatchet strapped to his belt.

I don’t think, that when growing up in such an environment, one is ever able to completely adapt to “civilized” society.  One becomes like an outdoor cat who has limited tolerance for staying inside.  I realized this more than ever over the past two weeks as something visceral ignited inside me.  I am very much a part of this landscape and climate.  The seasons and weather which are constantly changing, speak to me, embrace me, and when hiking in these northern woods, all is well with the world.

The neighborhood where I grew up has drastically changed.  Some forest remains, but mostly it’s been mowed down for new housing developments and businesses.  I have to drive now to find any areas of accessible wilderness.  There is however, one small parcel of public land near my parent’s home where I can still hike.  For many years I have enjoyed the beauty, peace, and solitude of this place.  However, in recent years, this treasure been discovered by the onslaught of a growing population.  Other people want to use these trails and alas, their use involves snowmobiles and ATVs.  It is a mystery to me why some see untouched nature and feel that it immediately has to be occupied with noise and speed.

Yesterday however, as I walked the parcel, there was none of that.  I did encounter one man jogging and a couple walking together silently beneath the trees.  I smiled at these people and said good morning.

Published by susancasslangmailcom

Susan Casslan is a writer and a nurse. Her writing touches on spirituality and issues pertaining to social justice. Casslan lived for a decade in the San Francisco Inner Mission District, and she was greatly inspired by the Latinx culture of that neighborhood. The Inner Mission emerges in her books Conversations with Richard Purcell: The Adventures and Reflections of a Renegade San Francisco Priest and That Which Wavers with the Night, as well as in her chapbook 24th Street and Other Poems. Additionally, Casslan’s nonfiction articles have appeared in El Tecolote, an Inner Mission newspaper.

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