I had forgotten how tall the firs were as I plunge deep into the forest conveniently close to the highway and very near Stevens Pass. Once out of the car and down the trail, I could not see the tops of the trees without sitting, leaning against the granite to steady myself to see back that far. The canopy is bright green against the blue sky. How quiet the forest is next to the river as it pretends to be ferocious and yet no doubt, in this drought, is only a fraction of its strength. Still it pours clear then rippling, frothing through the bed against which it sands and smooths the rock in its path.
As I draw closer to the bottom of this glen a pause in the density of trees reveals a deep pool quietly lapping the surrounding boulders it has already beaten to apparent silkiness. Stillness here. Ageless duff under my feet, worn branches worked into rails and seats for short gazes into the water and across it to forest on the other side, occasionally a bridge that leads over and back if one doesn’t prefer to stop in the center and imagine floating down in the icy, constant flow.
What a relief this is, to walk into the woods, the rough places, sudden drops of the trail, and then rising again, my footsteps balance between fir, hemlock and alder, and then toward the river. It’s been at least two years, maybe more, that I have waited, wondering how long healing a knee replacement would take before I could take to the woods again. Sun streams onto the river, splashing into the trees and my slow, steady gait balanced between two trekking poles. A big smile on my face.
The moss! Strings, shreds and draperies of it from tree to tree, bright and green. Lichen, small black knobs and then shells of white studding the blunt and torn ends of trees that have fallen and been cut to make way. A huge, wide cedar stump with cuts left by the springboards of foresters bent on laying the forest low sports a very tall, very thin hemlock that, in this muted light, may never grow to more than fragility.
I take in the light, the trees I can name, the trail, the bridges, soaking in the rich detail that simply doesn’t exist in neighborhoods like mine where at least a number of cedars still stand, six of them in my own back yard, and one Douglas fir. What a gift to be alive on the earth. Not that many years ago I would have been consigned to my home, if not to my room, with a branch cut to fit for hobbling through the house.
Now I am returning to the trails, beaches, and woods I have so missed in my convalescence that, at my age, takes longer than expected. Seize the day! Lest you let it pass without the wonder and respect it deserves. “And we shall be like trees planted by streams of water, that bring forth fruit in its season, and whose leaf does not wither; and in whatsoever we do, we shall prosper.” Psalm 1:3