Gatineau Trails You say the woods like the woods can be anywhere in the world; used in this way the outdoors becomes an all-encompassing monolith of leisurely otherness for char-grills and picnics. Maybe you know how to survive outdoors—the whole world over! Not these woods I say, these woods are specifically from here. All the woods are different. Trees everywhere are remembering. Where I was born in now-Alberta the forests belonged to tricksters. They’ve been fought over many times; each caretaker more cunning than the last. Every place has dead bodies. Alberta burns its millions in a final attempt at genocide. Where Kookum retired on the other side of the mountains, the woods sing a rich, mournful song. Sometimes a big wave of sadness comes crashing through the trees who miss the ocean (but not that much). In spots along the coast you can find primordial ghosts glittering in the canopy. Not these woods. This trail was state-ordered, carved through Algonquin territory to overlook the colony. The trail closes at night. We plod along hard earth, worn down by the thousands who have walked exactly here since the trail’s inauguration in 1963. A piece of me lay trodden over the forest bed where we move as one beast with two minds about how we speak to ancient ears; how we trace the spine of a sick mother after we forgot to call home.
© Cara Goodwin