Sunday, June 05, 2016

The Hundred-Acre Wood

I got up early and set out on foot for the local park in search of a family of barred owls who either weren't around today or were keeping themselves out of sight. Though a light rain fell, beneath the leafed-out canopy I felt scarcely a drop. I can walk the trail that circles the wooded section of the park in ten or fifteen minutes, but this time instead I turned off into the interior of the woods, following a network of little trails that branch off here and there through sparse growth beneath tall beaches and tulip-trees and past parallel ridges of outcroppings, some topped with little cairns. Somewhere high above a single bird was calling plaintively, always the same five-note refrain — wee-HEE-heee, WEE-he — but even as its source seemed to drift from treetop to treetop I could never catch a glimpse of it. Four deer eyed me warily but held their ground; maybe they're used to me by now.

There were no other walkers today. There's a tacit fellowship of sorts among those mad enough to get up and walk the woods before work, but it's a reserved one, respectful of the cathedral-like atmosphere of the canopy as well as of the privacy of strangers whose reasons for needing to be there are their own.

On the leaf litter beneath some young beeches I found a pale white mushroom the size of a small melon — or of a brain, which in its convolutions it half-resembled. Perhaps the rest of the body lay still vertically interred, the eyes staring forward through the loam, awaiting its time. A host of tiny flies circled around it.

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