Sitting cross-legged atop the log, my sketchbook spread open on my lap, I closed my eyes. I felt the tree beneath me, the trees around me, their roots below me and their leaves above me. I was surrounded by the forest, enveloped in its ancient embrace, breathing in its timeless wisdom, seeing through its omniscient eyes. I was one with the trees–or trying to be, anyways.
Opening my eyes and working with an agitated hand, I started sketching. I fixed my attention on a weed of some sort, leafless and brown, and followed its movements with the pencil lead. It was drooping, hanging towards the ground, seeking to return to what it had grown from. It seemed like it was lifeless and full of despair, but I was trying my best to look past that, to hear its voice.
Like the weed, I too was seeking to return to what I had grown from. That feeling of harmony and union I’d once felt with nature–the very feeling that had shaped my entire childhood–was something quickly slipping through my fingers. I wanted it back.
I finished the drawing with some satisfaction, for it was a decent sketch, but there was still a nagging feeling of discontent gnawing at me. It was an accurate representation of the weed, and yet there were no words, no speech. Disappointed, I let my attention wander.
The forest still looked like a winter forest. The snow had melted, but the trees were bare, the leaves on the ground crunched underfoot, and there was a distinct feeling of grey heaviness hanging about.
And yet, spring was coming. I knew that the wintry appearance was just a cloak–there was green life bursting just beneath its surface. A bitter wind passed between the trees, scattering leaves and making the trees complain about their stiff joints. I listened carefully, but couldn’t make out their words. Goose bumps running up my arms, I rubbed them and sighed.
Winter’s over, I reminded myself. The forest looked bare and the wind felt cold, but winter was already over. Spring is coming.
As I had the thought, something caught my eye. Getting up from the log, I knelt next to a small sprout. It was a curling green leaf–just one–poking up above the forest floor. At the sight of the brave plant, something inside me leapt with joy. I wanted to cradle the sprout in my hands, hold it to my chest, let it come inside me and grow tall in my soul.
“I’d take you with me if I could,” I murmured, but I left the sprout where it was. It needed to grow here, not in my inexpert hands. Still on my knees, I looked around me, noticing that there were more leaves pushing up from the ground. Spring is coming.
I stood and brushed off my knees, and then looked around more carefully, my eyes cast to the ground. That was when I saw the forest within the forest. In a bed of soft moss, growing on top of a tree stump, a valiant troop of red and green shoots were standing tall and proud.
They didn’t speak with voices, but instead spoke with their postures. They were some of the smallest plants in the forest, but they had a self-assured way about them that made me certain they were the most confident. They all stood together, none separated from the others. They seemed a perfect army, full of soldiers who bowed to no one, but never left a comrade behind. Wistfully, I longed to join them. They were the only plants there who didn’t rely on speech. I would fit in well there.
“What would it take to join you?” I asked musingly, blinking slowly and turning away. I surveyed the forest again, searching for more traces of new life but finding none besides those already discovered. The forest had new life in it, but it still needed time to wake up fully. The green would take time to grow and to spread, and it would be a while before it was in its full radiance. Time, and patience.
Nodding, taking in everything I’d seen, I packed away my sketchbook and pencil, slung my bag over my shoulder, and exhaled deeply. Putting my hand gently on the log I’d used as my seat, I said, “Thank you. That’s all I needed to know.”
Then, my footsteps firm but yet reluctant to leave behind the silent forest, I left on the path I’d entered and headed home.
I had my answer now, I realized grimly, but it wasn’t the answer I’d wanted. And now, somehow, I was supposed to tell him that we were right.
“Spring is coming,” I repeated, and walked a little faster.
As promised, here is the beginning to my story, Language of the Small Folk. This is where I will begin to develop my persona, her situation, her conflicts, her experiences, and her powers, and figure out who she is and why we’re alike. Though this adventure is based off of real experiences I’ve had, much of it will be changed, turned into a story that doesn’t mirror my life. Yet it is because of this experience that the story is entirely true.
I took a few more photos that day on my walk, and I’ll post an album on the Valourbörn Facebook page. As the story goes on, I’ll add more and more photos there, as well as some here on WordPress.
Until my next post, I leave you with this question:
What sign represents springtime for you? Birds, flowers, something else?
May your spring be near at hand, so that all your forests may be full of bursting life.