Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Early Succession

The Quaking Aspen is one of the first trees to come in, behind the raspberries and the sumac, reclaiming abandoned fields, heralding the forest's return.

In the autumn wind, the Aspen's leaves seem to tremble with desire to return to the Earth, giving themselves over to become the soil that will feed the Maple, Oak, and Pine that follow.

Sometimes I think this is the role I was born to -- to make the fertile soil where the forest will grow again.

In this generation, we are witnessing the end of a civilization that seemed poised to make the world unlivable just before it began to collapse under its own weight -- like an old barn separated from its foundation and caving in on itself.

My home is at the edge of the field behind the barn, where the wild begins to creep in again. In the soil where I plant my roots there is still the memory of the forest that came before, It is enough to begin calling it back into being.

In this life time, in this body, I may never know the damp fullness of the deep forest, or the luminescent green of its lichens and mosses.

But I will know sunfire and rain and from them make a trunk and branches and leaves. My sap will run in spring time, making me supple and strong. And in autumn I will know the bliss of surrender, letting parts of me fall and feed and become Her fertile darkness.

And my descendants will know sweetness because I lived here, celebrate me in the scarlet passion of the Swamp Maple in October.


I wrote these words long before I admitted to myself that the world is alive and speaking to me. Fourteen years later, they take on new meaning:

I apprentice myself
to the quaking aspen,
setting down roots
in thin soil
at the clearing's edge.
Here in bright sun,
autumn brings
pale yellow

sweet darkness
will bring forth
maple red.

Hanover, NH -- 1995

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