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  • Mj Pettengill

In the Pathless Woods


Forest, Mist, Woods, CCO

Gentle, sporadic drumming woke me from a deep sleep. I lay awake and wondered what it was. The wind blew in short, unruly gusts, and if I listened hard enough, I could hear the fire crackling in the woodstove. 

I tiptoed into the other room and stopped when I realized that it was the branches from the lilac bushes, tapping their swollen buds against the window. It was too dark to see if it was snowing, and I didn’t want to turn on the outside light. I would have to wait.

I slept for a few more hours, until the break of dawn, and as soon as I got up, looked out the window. Yes. It was snowing. I stepped into my snow boots and pulled my orange hoodie over my plaid, flannel nightgown. I stood on the steps and thanked the morning chorus for the heart song that was otherwise missing. The woodpeckers’ beats resonated in various pitches and tempo, depending on their size, the object of their drilling, and determination to find a mate. 

To deter the bears, I keep the bird feeders inside of metal trash cans indoors. I began the task of carrying them out for rehanging. The crisp air whisked the edges of sleep away, bringing me into a rapid state of awareness. The snowfall was heavy, the flakes large and wet. The crocuses, snowdrops, and beginning daffodils laughed and shivered as if saying, we can take it. 

I smiled. I can, too.

A pair of mourning doves, nestled deep into the nearby pine boughs, threatened to rush away but didn’t. The chickadees could barely wait for me to hang the feeders. I lingered, curious to see if they would give in and flutter to get some food. One did. I wondered if it was the same one that trusted me the day before.

I went back inside and filled a yogurt container with more sunflower seeds for the platform feeder. There was probably enough out there, although, unlike humans, they only eat what they need. I wanted to indulge them.

I decided to photograph the crocuses and whatever else happened to be celebrating the spring snow. People complain. We need to be reminded of our place. We will not have the last word.

I was drawn to the giant pines—the elder council—that always beckon me. I usually pause at the bottom of the small hill and marvel at their greatness, pressing in and around me. I take time to acknowledge them, their state of being, and the condition of fellow trees that reside in the pathless woods. Many, still standing but nearly dead, show signs of infestation, while others have fallen, rotting on the ground. 

Times have changed. I stand humbly before them—grandmother and grandfather trees—no longer apologizing for what we have done to them and other life on Earth. We know. The time for that has passed. Because of our choices, it is time to step back inside as the healing begins. **********************************************************************************

Forest, Twilight

Quiet Joys of Brotherhood (Song)

As gentle tides go rolling by,

Along the salt sea strand

The colours blend and roll as one

Together in the sand.

And often do the winds entwine

Do send their distant call,

The quiet joys of brotherhood,

And love is lord of all.

The oak and weed together rise,

Along the common ground.

The mare and stallion light and dark

Have thunder in their sound.

The rainbow sign, the blended flower

Still have my heart in thrall.

The quiet joys of brotherhood,

And love is lord of all.

But man has come to plough the tide,

The oak lies on the ground.

I hear their tires in the fields,

They drive the stallion down.

The roses bleed both light and dark,

The winds do seldom call.

The running sands recall the time

When love was lord of all.

Songwriters: Richard Farina

Quiet Joys of Brotherhood lyrics © Universal Music Publishing Group Music, Sandy Denny - Click Below https://youtu.be/NHstyoGkMIU

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