Sunday, November 1, 2009
A Remembering and Forgetting
I walked in the Skidmore woods again yesterday and there were so many leaves on the forest floor that even though I walk there often, and I am quite familiar with some of the trails, I was a little disoriented; everything looked unfamiliar, and at several junctures I was unsure of the way to go. In fact, I’d planned to take a trail I hadn’t walked in a while, but decided against it because the unfamiliarity was somewhat intimidating. The woods are always a different experience each time we enter them, because that world is so rich and full of things to take in, that we couldn’t possibly absorb it all. Hence, each time we pass over a familiar trail, we see something we’d never noticed before. But this seemed as though it was that experience to the extreme, everything looked different, unfamiliar, even the trail was obliterated, because the carpet of leaves was so thick it obscured the path.
But, though I did falter here and there a bit, I finally tuned in to my inner GPS, and found my way intuitively, then I settled back into a certain comfort level, and was able to feel that I was home once more. All of the recent rain, and especially the high winds, had done their work, and many of the trees were bare. I noticed then, of course, how the conifers, still green and business-as-usual in their stance, took the forefront, and let their presence be felt, and I could not help but be grateful for their greenness.
This nakedness of the trees also makes us more aware of the forest terrain: rocks and boulders strewn by the glaciers’ retreat jump out against the stark backdrop, their mossy ridges inviting fairy feet to climb upon them; a black maw gapes in the flank of a tree, by its size, the work of a pileated, who worked here once only heard, or barely glimpsed, hidden as he was, amongst lush leaves.
In many ways, I think, my senses are renewed by the this state of the woods, I can see what had previously been hidden, and I have so much to take in, it can be a wondrous and inspiring experience, and humbling, too. I walked one familiar ridge yesterday only to be struck by the beautiful view of the Adirondacks in the distance; I get this glimpse each year when the trees shed their leaves, but each summer when this vista is hidden behind a wall of trees, I forget once more, only to be delighted again come Autumn.
I am grateful for this remembering and forgetting, this loss and renewal, this brushing away and starting again, it is like my life: I learn to retain what is good and worth keeping, but I learn too, that some things are best discarded. Though the letting go is sometimes painful, the acceptance of transformation brings healing, and renewal, and rebirth.