Another beautiful morning. I am reading Oliver Sach’s book called Gratitude, and I did that this morning in bed and thanked him for his wise and kind words. He found it hard to part with life, its intensity never dulled for him even as he died. This as the blue came sailing in the windows and the clouds lit up in the east. Clearing a strange dream from my mind as I read and watched the day approach.
Yesterday was a day I took care of eight year old Maple, but I think we should say that she took care of me. Maple is a wonderful, patient teacher, able, like Amaru, to spot things I easily miss, but in her case, the “things” are mostly plants and fungi although we did have a conversation about the ethics of keeping dinoflagellates in captivity…Maple shows me the world in a patient and articulate way. She has an eye for detail. Now I feel I really can tell the difference between false and true turkey tails. We debated whether a plant was indeed rattlesnake plantain. I love that she is respectful of picking, “This looks like it’s about to spore, let’s leave it.” One of best parts of our walk was discovering a fallen tree, moss covered, hollow and filled with passage ways, entrances and exits, perching spots where beech nuts and acorn left overs allowed us to imagine recent feasts. We rolled a few acorns down into the dens, and Maple spoke to the chipmunks (who we decided lived there), warning them to stay safe and apologizing for the disturbance we had caused. We also decorated the log with fallen hemlock boughs (maybe nipped from the tree by a porcupine) in honor of the season.
We also discussed how foolish it is for some people not to believe in fairies.
How nice to take such a walk with a child and view the world as fresh and so alive. Maple might spot a tree ear far up on a birch, and grab my hand and run to it. We spotted partridge berries and ate some, we collected birch twigs for the rabbits and guinea pigs and cached them, leaving behind trail markers so that we could pick them up on the way back. On the way back, we met Jimmy and Tyco, putting up the trail cam. Maple asked sternly if he had removed any trail markers from the path and he looked guilty.
We were out for at least 2 hours in the cold and walked a long, zig zagged way, skipping sometimes, running, racing, stopping, singing, sometimes holding mittened hands, sometimes adventuring off on our own. Chatting and quiet, warning off the invisible hunters, whispering so they could not hear our talk of animals. At the confluence, (which is not really that but a long island which splits Fuller’s Brook into two for a bit) we clambered around on the boulders, seeking out the garnet studded schist and saving the small stones. They look like little loaves of petrified raisin-pumpernickel bread. In the light the raisins sparkle deed red.
Although she was unfamiliar of the trail, Maple remembered all of our hiding spots and special places on the way back. And although we were tired, hungry and cold, she simply had to stop at the beaver pond and break off delicate sheets of ice and toss them off onto the frozen surface, watch them tinkle, shatter and skid.