Snapshot of a Forest Between Storms

I awoke this morning with a start.  Something was different.  I lay in bed, in the dark, trying to decide what it was.  Ah.  It was silence!  There was no rain thundering down on my skylights.  Once I’m up, I’m up so I bumbled around in the dark and made a cup of coffee.  I crawled back into bed to watch the forest wake up.  My cabin is deep in the woods so I don’t see sunrise or sunset per se, but I do enjoy watching the black canvas turn to dark tree silhouettes against grey and purple and finally, to see the shades of green emerge.  And always, my Red Shoulder Hawk, consistent as any rooster, eek, eek, eeking away any final wisps of night.

Once we had all rubbed the sleep out of our eyes (the hawk and I), I decided I’d like to take advantage of a pause in the weather to get outside and stretch my legs.  Down the street we go, to the Forest of Nisene Marks State Park.  I ran past, one, two, three signs that said, “Park Closed due to Storms and Unsafe Conditions”.  I interpret this to mean, “If a tree falls on your head, please don’t try to sue the park.  We told you so.”  Having perfected my tree evasion manuevers (mentioned in a previous post) of making a small “o” with my mouth and flapping my arms, I proceeded forward with confidence.  Here is my running stream of  consciousness.

The steady rhythm of 3 footsteps to each breath.  One, two, three, in.  One, two, three, out.  One, two, three, in.  One, two, three, out.  The forest, fuzzy and shrouded in fog and mist.  No sharp lines, no sharp sounds.  Everything muffled and quiet.  A Winter Wren flits in the undergrowth and catches my eye.  It lands on a gnarled brown finger of a twig and looks back over its shoulder at me.  Beady eye, tail up and down trying to keep balance.  The dull, steady roar of Aptos Creek turned river down below, brown and boiling, carrying logs and debris away, out towards the ocean.  The higher tinkle of impromptu waterfalls running off the hillsides.  Trees down everywhere, new holes of light in the canopy.  The squelch of mud as I pick my way across a landslide that’s covered the fire road.  Tree shrapnel.  A big fella came down here and exploded.  Cold, wet moss on my arm as I squeeze through the wreckage.  And finally, a few silver streaks zing through the air.  Raindrops return.  Mother Nature is supposed to let loose again today so best to turn back now.  No sense in tempting fate and falling trees too often.

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