Wednesday, December 15, 2010

West Arumchee Creek to Narrows Picnic Ground

Bark of a hemlock

7.2 miles

I brought two books with me into the wilderness. One is Annie Dillard's Pilgrim at Tinker Creek, and the other is Vivian Gornick's The Situation and the Story. I read Annie Dillard's chapter on parasites last night, and today came on a huge stand of hemlock trees, dying from the woolly adelgid. I had been seeing them dead across the trail all along, huge pine carcasses cast in my path, but today I finally figured out what they were and why they were all dead.

After that, I felt like I was walking through a graveyard. Mammoth pines, hundreds of years of growth, dead all around me. and nothing I could do about it. One pine, so big I would have a hard time putting my arms around it, was newly fallen, the flesh of its inner trunk pink and fresh and wet. It looked like a little breeze had come over the crest of the mountain and knocked it over. Just a push, and a 100-year-old tree was down.

But death is love's companion, always there. Eros and thanatos, those two ancient twins.

I don't really know why I'm out here. It was a spur-of-the-moment decision with a modicum of planning. I needed to be outside again, knew that my stationary life was causing me to stagnate, knew that I needed to be on the move. It's the last month of my 32nd year. Jesus was 33 when he was crucified. It's a significant year, the 33rd of one's life. I need to take a step back, and think about my future.

Maybe part of that need was a need to witness some death. Even the deaths of hemlocks ona Georgia mountain ridge. The next time I pass through, they all will almost certainly be gone. And this self I'm carrying through, she too will be gone.

2 comments:

Red Sonia said...

this one makes me weap! SK

Melissa said...

I'm glad--not that I'm glad I made you cry--but that these deaths touched you as much as they touched me.