To read the previous chapters of ‘Illuminating the Hidden Forest,’ click here.
Nov. 26, 2019
Autumn is the season when our family of three — man, woman and dog — moves to Kennedy Park from the private woods that extend behind our home. During the hunting season, we enjoy the forest in public places.
Kennedy Park has its own virtues. One benefit is the many friends — human and canine — that we have made on the trails. Another is Balance Rock, rewarding our steep climb with a breeze and a view that becomes more and more visible as winter approaches.
A favorite is the beaver pond. Resting on its bench at the epicenter of our walk with Lily, we have watched over the years as trees that are upright one season have a circlet on their trunks chewed through the next. These fallen trees have turned parts of the pond into reefs for small fish and animals that shelter in their branches.
During the past year, beaver chewing and the forces of nature felled a large ash tree directly in front of the bench. As we rest, we face the root ball’s underside, 9 feet wide, packed with dirt and stones. Little by little, rain has eroded the now-exposed soil clinging to the roots. Yet ever resourceful, miniature ferns and mosses are now populating this unlikely patch of perpendicular ground.
Day by day during our rest break at the pond, we have watched as the golden leaves of the high canopy thinned. Sometimes, meditatively, we follow one or another leaf with our eyes as it circles slowly downward before settling on the ground.
As the high canopy opened, a lower leaf story emerged. The brilliant greens and reds of the middle story had a tardier day in the sun, literally and figuratively, until their leaves, too, mingled their bright colors on the ground.
Layer by layer, autumnal day by autumnal day, the ground has thickened with accumulating leaves. The forest is getting ready for winter, preparing its blanket for the cold season, just as we have refreshed our winter comforter for the cold nights ahead.