Thursday, November 12, 2009

The Forest

A man walks on a dirt path. He is alone, aided only by two tools in each hand. The path meanders gently, the foliage along the edges determines its uneven shape amongst the forest. The narrow bit of uncovered earth carved between the trees and bushes is just wide enough for his feet and the metal walking stick he carries in his left hand. His right hand clutches the handle of a black umbrella to shield him from the miniscule drops of mist that come with the low hanging clouds. The man is dressed for a cool day. He wears a long-sleeved purple rain slicker and dark pants to repel the rolling mist. He smiles contentedly in mid-stride, his hands easily wrapped around his tools. The walking stick is a half a foot away from his feet, continuously scanning for rocks and mud and loose earth. His umbrella is raised a few feet from the crown of his head, as though waiting for a strong wind to carry him away. His smile reveals his ease amid the air of fall, which holds the whispers of rain and the yellowing promise of winter. In the distance are lush green pine trees which reach hundreds of feet into the sky, their long needles sit patently while delicate beads of moisture fall onto them, releasing their scent. Creating a green carpet on the forest floor are low-growing ivy with thick waxy leaves. Their leaves are shiny beneath the thin coating of mist that has found its way through the boughs and leaves of taller trees. A few feet ahead of the man are the immediate signs of a changing season. On his left, a large Japanese Maple has begun to shed, the path is littered in patches of leaves in various states of decay…brown and tan and beige carcasses are each in the slow process of transformation. The branches of the maple are covered in soft six-pointed leaves that are all a uniform shade of banana yellow. On the right side of the path, the long curved branches of a fern are completely dried and brown. It is not the mark of fall, but a breakdown of the plant itself. One lone yellow leaf floats in the air a foot from the fern. It is not the maple leaf, for the singular shape has only five points. It floats down from an unseen bough.

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