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.


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.