Seeking the familiarity of the mountain
I decided to climb, my feet slipping on fallen leaves.
November always carries with it the premonition of irreversible ending
despite its promise that the forest will grow again,
that this crunch beneath my feet and snap of twig between my fingers
are just going dormant for a while.
I don’t know what to believe anymore,
but on my climb to the ridge, I appealed to the trees
begged them to return, to take all the time they needed to rest,
but to not abandon me, and return, when they were ready.
Before the ridge there was silence, the pitch of the mountain blocking out all wind
I unzipped my coat and stuffed pockets full with headband, gloves, hat
let the heat from my body dissipate into the dry air.
I silenced my breathing and heard the only other sound: plane flying overhead,
and it occurred to me what I was hearing was already gone,
the vapor trail an afterthought of an object having already moved on
a moment now permanently cemented in history
Approaching the ridge trail brought the familiar unforgiving cold
the ridge tops of these forests are a persistent reminder of
the lack of control we have over nature.
so we seek instead to control in other ways
by layering up, to protect the skin from the cold
by layering up, to protect the heart from breaking
I couldn’t explain why, but I talked to the trees and the rocks as I walked.
I stopped to hug the dead tree that grows up on the rock garden,
the one that bends and still stands tall,
despite being dead, scorched by a burn, bark blackened on one side.
It’s my favorite on this particular trail, and as I hugged it I cried and thanked it for
anchoring itself to the earth and not giving up, despite being dead and burned and constantly enduring the relentless wind.
I told the tree I wasn’t ashamed of my feelings or sharing them
had no shame for every second I spent loving.
Soon after I let my arms unwrap from this tree I found scat laid out so visibly on a rock in front of me. I didn’t believe in signs until I had to, when it became the only thing to keep me going. I laughed and looked around, stepped over it and carried on.
/ / /
November 14, 2019