I missed my stop yesterday. There was a trailer parked in front of the usual spot where a path moves through the woods like a memory through shadow, under the tangled branches of imperfect recall.
I missed that stop. And so, I just moved down the road and found a rise in the terrain and stopped. No path. Just woods. Sleeping woods. The pines are green, of course, but their life is a quiet one – needles do no more than whisper in the wind. The riot of leaves is still gone. The snow comes still, even now in mid-April. How is that possible? April should be a muddy season, a time of messy communion between the above-ground and under-ground. The dead thaw, their cells ruptured by the winter ice, their fibers disintegrating and integrating readily into the melting loam. And the new-born dig fresh toes into the surface, seeking the dark riches of their heritage. Trees begin to grow again – new rings come out along the breadth of trunks and buds line their arms. But not now. Snow in the middle of April. Why?
I missed my stop. The usual certainty of the path leading quietly through a confusion of trees, quiet amidst the call of gulls and hawks, the skritch and trample of unseen deer hooves. Noise and confusion, but always there’s the path – a ready focal point. But I missed it. And so all I had was a rise in the terrain, the rattle of naked maples and the whisper of pines. The snow is cold against the my fingertips as I drag them along the ground, but tiny openings have appeared in the white crystalline drifts where the sun has found the tips of grasses to warm, the heat eventually drawing all the way down to the still-frozen earth. Why snow? Why a stop here? Why not. The trees seem confused here with no path to divide them, to lead my thoughts. But still, there is the sure calculus of their growth – the perfect efficiency of an individual tree and how no leaf ever grows in a place of complete shade. And there is the conversation held between the limbs, the trunks, the roots, given in the language of chemical exchanges; roots alone of downed trees can survive for years off of the photosynthetic economies of their neighbors. Why snow? Why a stop at a slight rise in the terrain? Because it is. It is.