Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Into the Woods

Deep summer and the forest is dark and dense. It covers the hillside to the east of the cabin and rolls along southward till it meets another line of woods that heads west. In winter, you can see the top line of the hills and all the ground below. In summer you see only the trunks of the nearest trees and behind them, a curtain of deep, dark, mysterious hush. In summer, it is the forest of fairy tales, the archetypal forest that characters must enter for one reason or another. All sorts of magical things happen under the cloak of the aestival forest.

I’m sitting in it as I write this. In this chair: John is working from home and the infernal “conference calls on speaker phones” have begun (in quotes because I think it could be the name of a band—an awful punk band who plays dissonant, screeching chords over screaming vocals:) I moved to the bench under the apple trees with my trusty laptop, but the boys are playing the radio and making a racket at the new house. So, I escaped to the woods. It is another world, right next to the one I was just in a second ago.

The threshold to our woods has been celebrated with one of John’s arbors. As well it should be, because there is a distinct difference in tone as you cross over from open meadow or lawn to woods. Immediately there is a shift in perception. Some liminal awareness in the brain is roused. The meadows are all noise and light and color and movement that hold pockets of silence here and there. The woods are the opposite. They are quiet and dark, mostly green and brown, with small darts of movement and shivers of sound that startle and catch the eye. In the meadows I am looking at everything. In the woods, everything is looking at me. We’ve got a lot of multiflora rose in our woods. And bittersweet vine and grapevine and Virginia creeper and another type of vine whose name I do not know. All of that is unfortunate, but not unusual for this part of the country. The old growth forest is long gone (except for the logs of our cabin!) and those nasty invasives have taken hold. We make the best of the bittersweet and grapevine, though. John makes his wonderful furniture and I cut swaths of the red berries haloed with orange petals from the bittersweet in fall. And I have to admit that the shapes of random grapevine make me want to craft on the spot.
People are talking about summer winding down and I begrudgingly admit that it is. The warm weather will stay around for awhile, I know, but the days are getting shorter. You can sense the plants beginning to draw back into themselves. The beauty we have to look forward to, though, is the glory of fall. The woods will change moods along with its clothes. I’ve seen it before, but this year, I’ll be here for all the subtleties and I’m excited about that. Another simple pleasure (that is somehow complex) of living here year-round. I’ll report back on the changes.

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