LAND THAT I LOVE
Almost from the day I could walk, I roamed the eastern woodlands and fished the mountain streams of this beloved land. The feel and smell of treasures found therein are impressed indelibly and forever on my spirit and being.
Here in spring is where the incredibly delicious morel rises peeking from under last fall’s matted leaves. Here, trout are on the prowl and wait for me in tumbling, translucent blue-green April streams. Yielding to the warmth of resurrecting sunlight, bluebells spread out in casual profusion along the riverbank. Here is where May apples pop up in shaded glens like so many tiny palm trees with white waxen flowers and a delicious little fruit some say is poisonous, but I'm still here after eating them for many years.
The well-named bloodroot, that bleeds as red as a cut artery, rare lady slippers (a species of orchid) trilliums, trout lilies, columbine, salvia and other secrets of streamside and deep woods await discovery in quiet seclusion. Soon, daisies, black-eyed susans, violets, Johnny-jump-ups and tiny bluets will awaken to the sun and cover the land.
Here, at day's end, the wood thrush sends forth its clear, sweet song from just inside the forest's edge.
In mid-fall, the first week of November holds magic of a different kind. All the leaves are down and crunch underfoot with a fresh new pungency. The weather, bracing for winter, is still mild. Vacation people have closed and locked their summer homes and returned to urban indentures. I am alone now with the permeating sweet smell of an oak fire blazing up, left in peace for another season and feeling the blessed richness of it.
Once, as snow fell dense yet soft and light, I trudged the path to sit beneath the giant old white pine and meditate. The air was bathed in quiet stillness, so much so, that every flake clung to whatever it fell upon. Snow piled high and higher upon every stem and twig and upon me as well. Except for falling snow, all movement stopped with every sound replaced by utter silence. Afterwards, I traced the tracks of forest creatures that had passed nearby: deer, grouse, rabbit, quail, mice and little feet too tiny to identify. Their stealth had been so profound that none disturbed the snow on so much as a single twig or blade of grass.
And in the quietude of this pristine and gentle land that I share with other creatures of field and forest, I find restoration as if returned to a time when the land was surely as it must have been when yet without man.