• Paul A Maher Jr

Thoughts On Walking Through Alpine Forest and Peat Bog

Walking through alpine forest. Scattered drops pelt spruce boughs. The sounds of a mysterious spring trickling through the moss-covered forest floor. The primal drumming of a spruce grouse resonates this space.

I can feel it in my heart. This unsettled heart . . . for we live in a violent sensate space. I have decided to turn my back on all that I was among before . . . this teeming competitive world. Pigs feeding from the same trough.

I drove to the shore, to the alpine forest. An ancient landscape, dead trees leaning against staunch living ones. The sight-presence of a dark owl silhouetted against the bright canopy. Light is diminished. In here, all ego vanishes. I feel no sense of myself. I am part of something larger. More significant. Here, no drum beats and alarm calls control our movements. We abide a circadian rhythm rendering our movements in lockstep with profundity. Unfathomable. I shed my inertia. Here, I have no name. No personality. No "purpose." Not far, there is the ceaseless roar of the sea clapping the stony striated cliffs. Distant clouds over Canada pour rain over its lands, rivers, mountains and lakes. It does not pour on any one being, or thing. It soaks through all. The light over the world illuminates all. It matters not of wealth, bearing, race or religion, we all get equally wet. We feel at once the icy clutch thawing our hearts. Our brains are the wormy loam seething with an energy governed by tides and moon phases.

Strike this hatred from my soul! Bite it from my heart!

Peel the birch bark. A living creature huddled there in secrecy, unaffected by observation. To caress its shiny exoskeleton is to feel the rind of eternity. Eyes of stone shine dully; the sun fails to probe this hour. Put the bark back in its place, this parchment scrivened the Bible of time.

I fail to teach you. You have failed to reach me. The unfolding flower steals within itself, this vegetable intelligence waiting for a warmer sun to spark its life cycle. Already winter is upon me. The cloak of seasons is mere illusion. As I trod upon the weathered beaten trail, the forest around me is untouched. The mossy carpet has built itself upon accretions. Damp sprigs of a dying tree are gnarled with crude life. Bearded lichen, cool mint-green drapes this world with an entity I cannot address. It is mindless of me. I do not enter its cosmos, but as a trespasser.

My thoughts eat themselves. A neuroses of anxiety, prison-pent in a glassy synthetic world.

Silver fir, Junipers, Pines, Birches. Moss-scent and wood rot. Winter things still slumber here under the crowning glory of spring. Wet stone. Rain spatters. I have no aim. No motive. Walking through on a fixed trail. There is no litter. I do not feel man's hand here. Just that which was laid upon the earth eons before. A gentle formation forged by fire and smoke.

When did this anger seed into my soul?

Here, it is not. It is nullified by a far gentler rage; a restless spirit burning through an inner cosmos seeking purpose. For what? Here there is no purpose. Purpose is not cyclical. It is enduring, seeding a fresh bed through its permutations. Ancient strata trod by the moccasin'd foot of the Micmac and Passamaquoddy. Our steps are blind and bumbling. Stupified by ego. Stultified by prejudices and vice. Our stench like carrion announces our presence to this world before it even see us.

It is this acknowledgement that bids us adieu. At some point, we must leave it. Return to our homes of wood and plaster. The crumbling foundation and leaking roof. Blinded by tradition. A fool's folly. Bound by duty, squandering our petty lives for what has no worth.

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