The sun is warm and penetrating today – the sort of warmth that sinks-in slowly, like stepping into a warm shower and letting my head hang – relaxed – my tangle of hair creating finely spaced streams of water that flow over my face and down my body – forming a translucent womb that envelops me in the simple happiness of warmth and moving water. Feeling the chill of a small exposed area on my shin, I tilt my head slightly to move the place where the water and I merge, sealing the break in my cocoon. It feels so good. So pure. So complete. No thoughts. Only a saturating connection to formlessness.
After only a few seconds, a vision of a parched field in the Central Valley moves my hand to disconnect me from my liquid sanctuary, and the flow breaks. The water chases itself to lower ground and a robe of cold is hoisted over me while I stand staring at the drain, watching the rivulets of my cocoon change from arteries to capillaries to emptiness. After several futile minutes of trying to rekindle the feelings in the absence of the flowing water, I give up and open my mouth to let the hope of it pour out of me as I empty my lungs in a surrender of spirit. My dark, heavy breath swirls down the drain giving chase to the hope that had recently inhabited me. I grab a towel and soak up the remnants of my symbiotic link to the elements and groan as I bend to pick up my clothes from the floor, turning my attention to the raking I need to finish up today.
Pine needles, small twigs and the scales of countless cedar, sugar pine and fir cones blanket the ground around the cabin. To comply with local and state regulations, I am compelled to reduce this fuel load or face fines. Those words seem odd and discordant…fuel load. The propagative potential of the forest lies in this fuel load – and every year I must scrape her to the bone. It’s an activity of mourning for me. On the one hand, if I want to increase the probability of this cabin surviving a fire from 0, to a little better than 0, and if I want to avoid fines, I do what I am compelled to do. But on the other hand, this is a forest, albeit a forest with electric and water lines slashed into her. The more neat and tidy she is, the less she is a forest and just one more human managed resource. So I rake and I make sure to miss lots of spots as I go. Oops.
As the sun moved through the opening in the trees over the driveway today, the wind picked up and the trees began to rock. The whispers of pine and cedar enveloped me and I rode them across the forest canopy until they dropped me gently back in my head, rake in hand. Two nearby trees, a cedar standing tall and straight and an oak, bending and leaning as if craning its neck to see around its partner, began to rub against each other 75 feet off the ground. As the wind picked up, the oak began to reach out across the cedar in ever increasing arcs until it happened…the fiddle and the bow met and let loose a low, dry, groaning creak that was at once the piercing sound of a squeaky hinge, but also a beautifully sustained musical pitch – a forest tone played on an instrument of the wind.
I avoided raking acorns the rest of afternoon.
Image source: Me!