Giving the Woods a Bath

The more time I spend in the woods, the more time I want to spend with them. Yesterday, I limbed a pinyon I’d spent days cutting down. The work became easier. Much easier than expected. The first part – cutting down an oversized tree with a 12″ diameter trunk, was much more difficult. I never thought I’d actually finish the job.

I worked at it day by day, whittling away until it looked like it had been beavered. There was still a good amount of sap in the tree. Cutting down a green tree is brutal work, especially when all you have to do it with is a dull handsaw. The first few days, I dreaded heading out there to do it. But in the era of lockdown, it’s a good use of time. I slept better at night after a few hard hours out there in the forest. My hands, my arms ached at night. But I got into better shape. I began to look forward to the work.

After I finished my writing in the mornings, my time as a sawyer in the afternoons became the best part of my day. Cleaning the woods is cleaning my house. What I do to the earth is what I do to myself. You can remodel the inside of your home. You can remodel what lies outside of it, too. Cleaning up the woods – removing dead and beetled trees, picking up the beer cans and plastic bags and old Styrofoam cups – that’s giving myself a sauna, a soak in a hot tub, and a shower all at once. All that I do, I do to me.

I think I’m giving the woods a bath. But really, they’re giving one to me. It’s called forest bathing, and reliable research shows that it has a positive effect on health, especially immunity. Everything I do, I do to me.

© 2022 by Michael C. Just

Mike’s novel, The Dirt: The Journey of a Mystic Cowboy, is available in softcover or eBook formats through Amazon.

You can purchase the book through this website. Or go straight to amazon at

Mike’s other titles, including The Crippy, The Mind Altar, and Canyon Calls, are available through this website or through Amazon at

Four of his short stories have recently been published online:

Lies, Ltd. has been published by The Mystery Tribune @ Lies, Ltd.: Literary Short Fiction by Michael C. Just (

The Obligate Carnivore has been published by the Scarlet Leaf Review @ Category: MICHAEL JUST – SCARLET LEAF REVIEW

I See You, Too has been published by the 96th of October @ I See You, Too – 96th of October

Offload, a short story about a man who can heal any disease, is now live and can be read at The Worlds Within at Offload – The Worlds Within

You Get the Two, a novelette, has been published in the anthology, The Kids Are Hell, now available in print, eBook, kindle or audio format at Kids are Hell!- Anthology (