reporting from the edge of the combined wildernesses of the cohutta and big frog
Sunday, August 20, 2006
Sunday, August 13, 2006
return to paradise
the cabin was left to stand alone without visitation for so long i could barely recognize what was once my everyday home.
the cattle gate rusted and the gravel had disappeared, now grown over solid in green. tulip poplars that were cut by the power company last summer had returned fuller though still short.
joe pye weeds towered over the drive, bending gracefully to reveal a mop head of light pink humming with bumblebees or decorated with butterfies. the field was overgrown and filled with plants i didnt know choking the life out of my fine fescue carpet peppered with pink and white clover.
the bush hoggers came and the lay of the land emerged again to light me up brightly with pride. i walked what seemed to be every inch again and again without a sense of repetition for there was a new discovery each time; the little wrens, the moles, a fallen hardwood, an odd white frilly fungi, a woodpecker as big a duck pounding away on a snag dead from beetles.
my new pup trout and i share an enthusiasm for advernturous walks in the woods, if not the timing of the season. she is impervious to the webs and webs containing small but potentially dangerous spiders, a finely threaded system connecting trees and blocking the barely visible paths that i once wore down to a defined line upon the ground. now those paths are overgrown from my absence i am reminded that the good earth reclaims her treasure. like the rainforest cover obscuring a pyramid, a pile of ruble to mark a fallen civilization, the eastern broadleaf had almost erased the proof that i once passed this way daily.
the pup is not aware of the potential dangers of copperheads on the other side of a log she jumps, the ticks, the chiggers, the yellow jacket holes to fall into. summer is a season of unpleasant surprises in the woods and i rejoice at the sight of the first red leaves. but this is her very first summer and she is driven mad by the scent of raccoon and opossum...and squirrel. she trembles at the sight of squirrel. lives to run them down and when they escape up the tree she has a sharp little bark of frustration that is just for the agony of the squirrel that got away.
on this morning trout dashed out to disperse a clatch of black crows from the woodpile where i left a treat of raw peanuts. she is alert and very very fast. i worry that the days of visiting turkey hens, bear and deer are over and i miss with piercing loss the old chunk of lab, the slow moving yellow lover of all living things. and missing her is not the same as not loving what i have now: a speed of light hunter/killer/swimmer in a coat of nutty brown.
today a red tailed hawk perched low in a white pine, so lush were its needles it seemed alive like a tree lit with green sparklers. the hawk's color was subtle on this day, courtesy of a heavy sky, a rolling pattern of blue gray this time, less summer like when overcast means white. and there was a faint nip of fall in the air, on it's breeze was the fragrance of every time i fell in love. always it was autumn. and this was another love. being not just among the forest but full fledged member of a particular paradise.
as trout and i passed the hawk's perch, we made our way to the high edge of the creek. the earth gave out from beneath the pup without warning and she rolled like a log into the water...and like many new living things she was loose and floppy and emerged without damage. but three days of hiking have brought fresh cuts to her fresh face and she now has the look of an authentic mountain hound. i look at her and am thankful she does not yet know. this is our last night. tomorrow we will return on the super slab to the city of concrete heat and road rage and greens defined by fences. maybe i can delay for another day. for her. for myself. for what difference can there be from monday to tuesday?