Walking in these longleaf woods focuses my mind to see what is really there each day, not some idealized postcard image of “the woods” from a trip taken long ago and sentimentally softened around the edges.
Some observations from mid-day yesterday:
The food plots Buck and Harold so recently planted are lushly thick and green. Putting my foot into the prints of the tiniest sharp-footed fawn imaginable, I followed along the same woods pathway. Buck and Maggie were a few feet ahead when I heard the unmistakable rustling of big wings lifting from the heavy brush nearby. We all turned our heads to watch, as six wild turkeys took flight, Maggie’s left front paw lifted, her tail out in an instinctive point.
There is a feeder nearby that Buck had filled with 250 pounds of corn about four days ago. It was completely empty. Who were all the dinner guests, I wonder?
The post-Ivan landscape has almost become the “new normal”, and I am looking at the wounds now without averting my eyes. Opportunism has pejorative connotations, and yet this is the word which comes into my mind, in an admiring way, when I observe how quickly the fallen trees have become food and shelter for mammals, birds, reptiles, and insects. The holes created by the fallen trees are a boon to burrow seeking creatures, tunnels pre-formed by the huge ripped out root systems, dead branches providing natural cover.
Tuesday morning we drove over to the Office Depot to pick up two u-build-it bookcases. We skirted the main road to avoid road blocks created by the continuous efforts of clean-up crews with their long trucks, cranes and bobcat machines. The side road took us within view of the Hadji Shrine temple, where several acres of its fenced in property have been turned into a makeshift home for fifty or so displaced folks. The accommodations ranged from full-sized recreational vehicles to an astonishing variety of travel trailers — some homemade rigs on the back of pickup trucks — to brightly colored pup tents. The haphazard and impromptu way in which the various temporary homes were scattered about told its own story, as did family clothing attempting to dry between rain showers on loosely strung clothes line, dipping heavily in the middle and threatening the underwear, t-shirts and jeans with a mud glazing. I salute these opportunistic survivors, scavenging windblown discards to rebuild home.
I was well over thirty before learning that the promise of a change in scenery was usually more lure than allure, the shiny flash pyrite, concealing a hook. Finally, my instincts now are to stay put, open my eyes, feel the shaking, understand how fierce beauty is different, often disturbing and always more highly prized than placid prettiness, and to stay awake, shed my skin and become the transformed.