Walking through the summer woods, I lose myself in a fantastical magical world. The only way to fully immerse myself is in my natural state. Bare feet sinking in the deep mosses and skirting the many berry patches. The light makes it way feebly through the interlaced branches of spruce and the occasional birch tree.
It’s quiet. Listening carefully I can hear the small stream that appears out of the hillside suddenly and makes its way over moss-covered rocks and beneath small alders and patches of cow parsnip on down to the river valley below. It’s some of the best water I’ve ever tasted.
The breeze rustles and settles sporadically and in between those times I can hear a large animal moving about off out of sight. Most likely a moose but I suppose it could be a bear of some sort. I’m not worried. I’m sure it knows I’m here.
Quietly making my way amongst the gnarled trunks, I pause as I catch a quick movement from the corner of my eye. There. A small vole makes its way along a long-fallen log, rotting slowly as the years pass it by. I’m sure the rodent’s cheeks are stuffed full of seeds or berries as it makes its way nimbly back to its nearby nest. I crouch down and closely examine the miniature world before me. Tiny flowers, lichens, small white and brown mushrooms, and the beginnings of what I know will soon be lingonberries. Here a plump black spider moves along its way. The birds I hear chirping all around I know would love to have her for a meal.
Standing once again I continue on my way, although, to be honest, I really don’t have a destination in mind. Just being out here is exactly where I want to be. From up above I hear an odd sound and I know immediately what it is. My eyes search its maker out. It sounds literally like someone enjoying a meal, chewing and saying, “uummm-nom-nom-num-nummmmm”. There he is. A porcupine high in the branches of his favorite tree, stripping leaves and quickly eating them. Which is strange to say, considering how slow they do everything else. I call out a greeting, “hey there little porky,” so as to not alarm him. He pauses and slowly turns his head toward me. He knows he has nothing to fear and after a moment’s time, he moves on to devouring the next branch.
Looking up past him, I catch movement far away in the sky. I move further on, to get a better glimpse. Ah, there, a bald eagle circling effortlessly. He can’t possibly be hunting as these trees are too close together. I’m sure his nest is nearby and he’s simply enjoying the warmth of the Alaskan sun on his back and the wind flowing over his feathers. Climbing a nearby boulder that rests on the edge of a steep hill, I, too, spread my wings wide. The breeze moves across my skin. I hold my head up and close my eyes.
I wonder if I have enough faith to fly. If I leapt from my perch, would I soar high into the heavens? Or would I fall crashing to the earth below? I would love to say I have the necessary faith. The belief that I can do this. I open my eyes and take in the magnificent beauty all around me. No. I don’t have the faith it takes. I am a mere woman. Breathing the clean air deep into my lungs, I stare about me. I am astonished once again. I may not have faith to fly, but I am blessed beyond comprehension for the ability to live here. To be a part of it. To feel the earth between my toes and the fresh, crisp water on my lips and all the little and big creatures that share it with me.
All I have to do is look and listen.
This is dedicated to my friend Braeden.