The river had receded back to its former creek self and I had a day off work. My friend Debbie had also been wanting to go pay her respects to the fallen Advocate Tree so we made a plan to hike and see it this morning. The forest is familiar to the both of us but everything looked so different after the storms. Trails washed away and areas that now look like trails that were cut out by sudden rivers. We had several stops and starts backtracking, trying to find our way. Aha! There was a giant log jam that would allow us to get across to the other side where the Advocate lay in her mossy, shattered splendor. We crawled, jumped, and walked the balance beam of down trees and branches and scrambled up the muddy bank on the far side. From there it was a short path to the upended root ball, tall as a house, festooned with red roses that previous mourners had left. “Oh my gosh!” “Wow.” We spoke in hushed tones as there was a cathedral-like stillness in the forest this chilly January morning.
Steam rose off the fallen giant in the cold air. “Geeze,” said Deb, “it makes it look like it’s still smoking from the fall. Like it just happened.” She was right. It did have the eerie echo of a crashed jumbo jet, smoke still curling up into the sky. We climbed atop the tree and walked the length, taking it all in from various perspectives. As we neared the top of the tree, there wasn’t much left. The apex had virtually exploded and then with the giant rains, the river rose several feet and carried much of it away.
It must have been something else to hear or see that monster come down. The forest is already growing up and around and on the Advocate. Dust to dust. The tree was draped in millions of spider webs which, due to the angle of the sun, appeared a most peculiar shade of blue. “Blue silly string!” exclaimed Deb. The banana slug above, slimed his/her way along. Did you know banana slugs are hermaphrodites? It’s true. You can Google it. Tantalizing and charming were the mushrooms that sprouted up everywhere. And possibly quite poisonous. The more interesting and pretty they are, the more likely to kill you. Isn’t that just the way?
We stayed a while, sharing a beam of sunlight that broke through the canopy, soaking up the bit of warmth, talking, and sharing stories. I left with a full heart, grateful for friendship, nature, sunshine and a little less sad about the Advocate, remembering that it’s just another chapter in the tree’s life, albeit a more horizontal one.