Skip to content


Omi took me to the woods

Omi took me to the woods.

My memories of times with my German Grandma on my mother’s side are walking on pine needle carpets along tree lined paths in Hessen Germany. She’d look for mushrooms on the way while she held her walking stick and as we meandered along on those paths in the woods, Omi would sing German folk songs.

And, sometimes she’d grasp my arm and we ‘d wander arm in arm, her smiling brown eyes peering into mine with warmth and acceptance.

To get to the woods with my Omi was an effort. We’d wait outside of her house for the bus to take us into downtown Bad Homburg, a few kilometers from where she lived, and after getting to town, we’d transfer to another bus that would take us out of town where we’d get out at a stop that felt like it was the middle of nowhere, but it was somewhere, it was near a hiking trail.

In German,  hiking is “wandern” which is a great word if you stop and think about it. DSC_0437When I think of “wandering” in English I think of roaming or meandering without worry of destination. Adventure. I am reminded of the poem by JRR Tolkien that has the phrase in it, “Not all who wander are lost.”

In Germany, the trails you walk on are really fun, especially because sometimes you’d come across a café in the middle of the woods where you could stop and get “Torte” and coffee or hot chocolate. Sometimes we’d get “KinderKaffee” which means children’s coffee, and I think they called it that because it was caffeine free.

Because my  Omi lived in Germany and I lived in America, I did not get to see her very often, only every three to five years. And then as I got older, I’d visit her on my own and then later with my husband and then later with my kids. And, hiking with her continued to be a tradition with us. Getting us outdoors, in the fresh air. In the woods. Experiencing life together in nature. Many people talk about women being into shopping and malls and stores, but not my Omi. It was the woods that she was all about.

My Omi built in me a love for the outdoors, as did my parents. I love that. And I am trying to do the same for my kids, getting them outdoors. DSC_0450

When I did my student teaching at Marshall High School in Portland, Oregon, I taught an American Literature course for seniors, and we studied Henry David Thoreau’s “Walden,” (also known as “Life in the Woods.”) One of my favorite quotes from Thoreau is “I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived. I did not wish to live what was not life, living is so dear; nor did I wish to practice resignation, unless it was quite necessary. I wanted to live deep and suck out all the marrow of life, to live so sturdily and Spartan-like as to put to rout all that was not life, to cut a broad swath and shave close, to drive life into a corner, and reduce it to its lowest terms.”

My Omi lived deliberately, taking us to the woods, sucking the marrow out of life. She loved adventure and getting outside. She built memories with us, and as I look back, even though I did not get to see her that often, hiking and walking in the woods with Omi are some of my fondest childhood memories. Being in the woods with Omi.

Posted in Adventure, Children, Extraordinary Ordinary, Kids, Life, Live the Questions, Moms, Parenting.

Tagged with , , , , , , , , , , , , .


6 Responses

Stay in touch with the conversation, subscribe to the RSS feed for comments on this post.

  1. Cornelia Seigneur says

    Jeanette- our paths cross again! wow, so sweet your comments and that you like similar quotes and authors! so glad you came to our Writers Connection group- and look forward to continued connection on writing and faith! -

  2. Jeanette Mayhew says

    That is such a treasured time and memory that led you to discovery and teaching others the same. :) i love Jrr Tolkien and his quote “Not all who wander are lost” especially in a world where decisions are made so fast and rarely given time to simply wander, in which we have time to discover and ponder. :) The quote you shared from Thoreau was as if you had just taken the words right from my journal. :) I to long and seek to live a Full and Rich life. A life that is “sucking the marrow” out of it (a phrase I have used several times) and Spartan Warrior Princess like… bold, courageous, and linked with others who are likeminded as one of the daughters of the King. :) Thank you for scribing out the tales and journeys which you have have taken generously allowing us to join you.

  3. Cornelia Seigneur says

    Tami- that is such a great comment:”when we are outside we are the happiest” -That is so true for us as well. And you have to make/take the time to do this -good for you that you take your family outdoors and I am guessing they like to hike because you get out and hike-!

  4. Tami Laursen says

    I am blessed to have a husband and daughter who love to hike. We have seen some of the most beautiful views of God’s creation. I love it when it’s so quiet you can hear a pine needle drop. We always have a wonderful picnic and great conversation. As a family we are the happiest when we are outside. Thank you for sharing your love for your Omi and your love for being in the woods with those you love. Every time you go hiking…..there is a little part of Omi that goes with you :)

  5. Cornelia Seigneur says

    Hi Mark- then my blog post worked! – thanks

  6. Mark W McIntire says

    I’m putting my hiking boots on and heading out.

    Thanks, Cornelia



Some HTML is OK

or, reply to this post via trackback.



SEO Powered by Platinum SEO from Techblissonline
Portland SEO