When I am in a forest I am not with the rest of the world.
Massive ravines, sloping hills, jagged rocks and dismembered trunks construct a vast place, wild and inhuman. The deciduous trees sprouting with chartreuse green leaves, vividly doused in sunlight, transport me back to an antediluvian time. The network of roads and trails vanish before my eyes and my imagination witnesses a time where ancient, prehistoric beasts travelled. The last time I beheld this forest my head filled with words, a jumbled paraphernalia of verbs, nouns and adjectives, archaic and modern. Now I just see the colors: moss and harlequin green, rust and umber brown, charcoal and pastel gray.
Mostly it is silent except for underneath my feet a crunch of gravel, a slurp of mud, or a soft pounding of packed earth and needles, coupled with the padding of Monty’s paws, the clang of his collar tags and his raspy panting. Intermittently breaking the patches of silence, the birds’ calls ring sharply through the trees. Not just common songs, but performances of throaty vibratos and shrill whistles, alluding to the more foreign time period, indistinct ages ago. A year is only so long. It is just a construction of months, weeks, days and hours, strewn along by minutes and seconds.
Time is a concept fabricated by humans. So much can change in a year: trees can die, leaves can fall, seeds can sprout, earth can move, people can leave, a person can transform. Days go by so fast and so many meaningless numbers fly away, yet there are some days that are exceptions from the rest, simply frozen into memory or burned into skin. When the parallel dates pass on consecutive years it can’t be helped but to feel that fleeting moment, like a ghost appearing from the past. My ghost appears on March 2nd; this year it was our one-year anniversary, me and my memory. We celebrated with agony; loneliness for supper, regret for a drink and I was given a fresh, blood-red rose construed from haunts.
She, my memory, trailed with me all day, tugging at my wrists and wailing in my ear. It has been a year, a length of time deemed appropriate for forgiveness, for dismissal, yet there is no tide of restoration ushered by the green leaves and the sunshine that come with spring. I am left simply as I was, no more different than the season before. The stream is so much clearer, cleaner than it was months ago; it adds to the idea that spring is a symbol of a cleanse for a new life, of a new cycle, of a transformation. The water is louder, faster, stronger without all the debri in the way.
I understand how someone could walk beside or within a spring river and breathe in a sense of renewal and call it a representation of such. I had walked through the forest before visiting the stream. In the stillness I had paused on the trail, and Monty stopped abruptly behind me, his muzzle bouncing on the backs of my knees. A dried leaf with a pigment betwixt the shades of tortilla and tawny split from its branch and fell downward, spinning slightly with its momentum. No more than several seconds passed as I witnessed the fallen flight of the dead leaf, and from the colors, shades and shadows leapt the words: Leaves still fall from trees in the spring, even though it is not cold.