I would often walk these woods with my father. I practically grew up in them. They’re kind of like a second home to me.

I haven’t been here in so long, but I still remember them like the back of my hand.

It’s funny how being somewhere so familiar — seeing it and hearing it and smelling the leaves in the air — can trigger so many memories. You know, I can still remember the sound of the twigs buckling under the weight of his heavy boots as we strode along these trails. The willow branches would dance with the rhythm of the wind and sing a rustling, sizzling song in return. Everything worked together. We worked together.

I lived for the times when he’d suddenly stop without warning and, with a nearly inaudible shush, raise his hand, pointing toward all the things I had missed. There was the doe with her fawns calmly drinking at the creek, the red-winged blackbird roosting on a branch just above our heads, a colony of beavers building a dam. He was so sharp. I wanted to be just like him. And for a while, I guess I was — until my hearing loss made these woods feel empty.

I didn’t think that I wanted hearing aids. But I didn’t really understand what it was capable of doing for me. The fit was so precise, it was like everything went from black and white to full color.

So I decided to finally come back here. And I wanted you to come with me. I wanted you to — wait, did you hear that? Shhh…look over there!