There was a lush wooded area located next to our property. For some reason, the landowner never came around to check on it. To a five-year- old boy, fifteen wooded acres seemed like an entire forest.
I vividly remember the first day that I saw it. I called it "Robin Hood Forest." It seemed enchanted. The trees swayed gently in the breeze. The small brook flowed quietly on its way. The ground was cool on this hot summer day. The texture of the soil was soft and satisfying to my barefooted toes. I heard whippoorwills as they called in the distance. I saw squirrels running playfully up and down the trees. One chirped to the other, as if to say, "Come catch me!" Tree frogs sang in chorus to welcome me. I came to love the peacefulness and solitude I found in those woods, and I regretted the sound of my mother's voice calling me home. Before I left that day, I vowed to return to that magical place.
In time, the woods became the focus of my inner world and my haven. I ran along trails, often referring to myself as "Daniel the Great." After all, this seemed to be an appropriate combination of Robin Hood and Alexander the Great, both of whom I had read about in the library. The forest needed a king. I plaited some grass for a diadem, chose a sturdy stick for a staff, adopted a particularly aged tree for my castle, and crowned myself "King of Robin Hood Forest."
As king, it was my duty to protect all of the peaceful inhabitants such as the flying squirrels, rabbits, raccoons, turtles, and birds. I watched out for menacing snakes and human intruders. Frequently, I climbed the low, even branches of my favorite tree for a strategic view of my kingdom.
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