Tuesday, October 12, 2010

A Certain Lineage

The forest was familiar this morning.
Different enough from yesterday to keep it interesting,
but familiar enough to perpetuate the deep connection.

The morning hike held new signs of a visitation from animals usually hidden from view. Our dog, Chica, put her nose to the ground and did her best imitation of a Hoover, taking in the scents to determine the kind, and size, of the creatures we shared the land with last night. She was unusually obsessed with the smells today. It was pretty obvious that we’d had some new visitors. She led me to fresh bear scat, and the tracks of a good-sized mother and cub. I followed them around the trails, which ultimately led up to the water trough I’d buried in the ground for the vagabond critters to refresh themselves.

This was not a particularly remarkable morning, by any means, just a pretty cool way to start the day, any day really.

The forest is a good parallel for life.
There are some aspects of it that we can count on. There is a certain sameness. Generally speaking, the trees are rooted where they’ve always been, the topography is constant, and the rocks continue to lie partially buried like pimples on the surface of the earth. The trails remain in place, wearing into the ground, like a good pair of shoes, over time, conforms to your feet.

It’s what we can depend on, a few of the things that we can anticipate being there tomorrow. Tomorrow is never promised to anybody, but there’s a reasonable expectation that the landscape will be then as it is now, or at least very similar. The constancy, the reliability, the fidelity of nature, as it were, is something that gives security to us in an otherwise undependable, and unpredictable, world. It is, I think, part of the reason I’m so drawn to it.

Sure, nature changes, just like people do. You often can’t trust it, sometimes it rises up suddenly, and unexpectedly, to hurt you (a tsunami, an earthquake, a hurricane), and sometimes it even hurts you inadvertently (a drought, the heat, the cold). Some say you can never trust nature. But, by and large, you know the rocks will be there tomorrow just as they were today. And you know that if you carve your lovers initials in a tree (if the developers don’t carve their own initials in the forest) you’ll be able to sit under that same tree in thirty years and remember what you were feeling way back then.

The trees change colors, they drop their leaves, some even shed their bark, but they remain as markers, they remain as sentinels against the threat of everything being in flux. Kind of like your old elementary school. Every year it admits, and graduates another group of kids, but it was there before you ever began attending way back then, and it’s still there, and still the same, all these years since you’ve been gone.

But maybe with a fresh coat of paint.

There’s a certain comfort in that.
A lineage, if you will.