Late winter is my favorite time to go off trail. It’s the only (snowless) time of year when the poison ivy doesn’t rule the landscape, and the ticks aren’t too active. I went for a wandering hike the other day, and, after falling twice in the leaves, I knew I had gotten a tick. Sure enough, when I got home, I found one crawling on my ankle. It’s already time to be more careful.
The walk, however, was still worth it. It felt fruitless at first. I climbed a rocky hill overlooking a rushing stream, and when I got to the top, I felt let down. It was a scrabbly spot that felt wrong somehow—the initial feeling was of disarray, unwelcoming even. I felt distinctly agitated. It was a high peak but packed with downed trees, and lots of spindly young ones, many of which were broken. As I struggled to walk through the mess, it dawned on me. The area must have been hit by a recent windstorm, or even tornado cell, as there were trees and branches both new and old everywhere, and it soon became clear to me that this area had been recently devastated. Was I feeling the devastation? I moved on, still feeling uncomfortable.
Down a sloping hill, wending my way through the tree carcasses, I heard some running water. When I happened upon a gentle stream I suddenly felt a warmth, a feeling of goodwill and welcome. The upset I had just felt melted away. This spot had not been devastated. It was a sheltered valley with a wide stream meandering through it, with bright green mossy rocks strewn throughout. It was practically asking me to have a seat. So, I did, on a large tree that crossed the stream (which had fallen long ago, smoothed and bleached by the sun), and I listened to the water rush by, gurgling melodically. It was warm and sunny, and just a soft breeze barely stirred the air.
That’s when it hit me that land has feelings. There is consciousness everywhere you go. Every time I go for a walk, it’s different. When I go on a regular route, at a regular spot, it’s like we are friends, and we are together again. I know this space, and it knows me, weather permitting, of course. We all have our moods. When I visit a new spot there are feelings to deal with—does this place feel bleak? Tortured? Sad? Pleasant? Welcoming? Friendly? When I am in a special spot, I can feel it right away, it just feels right. That day, sitting on that log, I felt like I had made a new friend. I knew right away that I wanted to see it again some day soon.
Other Thoughts and Notes:
I have Biocentrism on order from the library. I’m fascinated by the thought that consciousness might be what we are made of, not matter.
Have you ever read anything by Robert MacFarlane? I love his book The Wild Places. Highly recommended.
Random writing link: I loved finding this article this week ab0ut unfinished stories, and why you shouldn’t worry about them being unfinished.