I was thinking about our ramble yesterday, when we went all the way to the bottom
of the field and over the old wire sheep fence, where the great ash log had fallen
and bent it into a flattened V, and into the hemlock woods beyond where we'd
never gone. The ground was lumpy and hummocked there, between the dark trees
and the vividly mossed stumps, interspersed with spots of marshy black humus.
We agreed at once that while it had clearly been logged, long before, it was
surely never used as pasture -- it would have been trampled and eroded smooth
in no time. Probably, in the 1800s' farming boom, this had been a woodlot
for whichever farm had owned it. In any case, we followed the stream that
manifested out of the needle-carpeted earth, marveling at every tiny wonder: how
this feathery moss looked like minuscule ferns; how the roots of that yellow birch
held the stream bank together against the spring floods; how a skunk most likely,
or a bear, had scuffed the ground here, and here, and here in search of grubs.
We came at last to the creek the stream fed into, and searched until we found stones
to use for crossing without taking off our shoes and wading. Then we climbed up
the far slope, emerging from that dim, moist kingdom into a dry and sunny hillside,
crunchy with fallen beech leaves, the countless young saplings having finally shed
last year's fashions as they started to bud. We knew roughly where we were now,
and soon we found a trail you knew, that led us home by increasingly familiar steps.
But I'm still thinking about that shaded hemlock wood, its ground humped up with
secrets, and that despite how close by it was we'd never set foot in that part of it
before. Maybe no one had, for years upon years, not since the last time it was
logged, long before either of us were born. Such a small place, if you looked
at it on a map, trivial really, but still somehow vast and unknown, a no man's land,
a trackless jungle. I was marveling that such wild places still existed all around us,
where so many small lives transpire unremarked, where tree roots unfurl slowly,
slowly into the earth. How we could go back today and have a completely new
adventure. I suppose it's what they mean, in that whimsical cliche of fantasy,
when something's larger on the inside. It's how I'd like my heart to be; and
sometimes, when I'm with you in the woods, it feels like all I'd ever need.