Today I was dancing with wilderness. With the warm sun rising earlier and earlier, and the promise of a beautiful spring day coming through the open window, Nora and I take off for a first thing in the morning walk in the woods. It’s time to explore a little. We head down the access road that will lead to a pond hidden in the woods. I’ve only been there a few times. It is our Walden pond in these parts. It is deep enough into the woods to feel completely isolated from human sounds, yet the presence of human is there in the single stool that sits perched at the edge. It invites a sit.
Fixed gaze on the water, the illusion that the world is upside down is disorienting, while realizing that everything is a reflection of something.
The invitation is to rest and contemplate
but I am restless. Nora has disappeared into her play land and I call her back, re-direct her with the command “this way” and we head up another path leading deeper into the woods. The path follows a stone wall, portions of which actually have stone wall on both sides. As isolated as we are, the presence of human intervention is here, someone built these walls. Deeper in, the walls become even more present, turning and configured in a way that suggest more than just a boundary.
There are so many of them!
Was it just a single person, a family, a community? My mind begins to fill in the gaps between the questions and I get it, this was once true wilderness for these inhabitants. But now, even with the silence and the reclamation of the earth back to what it must have been before this intervention, I still don’t feel wilderness. Not yet.
Continuing on the path, complete silence is met with a sense of complete unknown. This is the tipping point for me. The edge where I feel the sense of something wholly other than human. I think of the bobcat that was found dead on the road nearby recently. That bobcat surely lived in these woods. There is a flash of the barest hint of fear as I think of what is ahead, pace slowed to almost stop in anticipation of turning around, thinking, this is far enough. But the flash is already long gone and I forge ahead. So, this is wilderness. The feeling that I could be the only human that has been here, completely at the mercy of this place now. The feeling dominates, even knowing this is not technically true. Civilization after all, is just around the corner.
For now, I marvel at the organization of this natural world, vine art, fungus beauty, and tree spirit….
After awhile, it feels like enough. We turn around and head home.