May 10, 2004

The Forests of the Northwest

There is nothing like coming around a bend in the trail to be greeted by a lush green valley, with steep walls of trees still steaming with the wetness from last night’s rain. Multiply this experience by a million times, with every possible variation imaginable, and you may have some idea what my weekend was like.

The rainforests of the Pacific Northwest are a peaceful, haunting place where mountains, streams and pines resonate with a damp silence. The cool, moist air perfumes the lungs and soothes the buzzing mind. Green life seeps out of every crack in the earth, and if you listen closely you can actually hear the forest growing. Green encroaches on all sides, and with time you begin to understand who is the true master of these woods. Though sedated by the thick atmospheres, you quicken your pace to harmonize yourself with the life expanding around you.

The harmony takes, but it only takes for so long because both you and the forest feel hunger. Your steps become sluggish and you pause just for a moment to catch your breath, because you can see your breath just as you can see the clouds of steam rising from the hemlocks.

You stop moving, and your feet cast down thin roots that snake into tiny crevices. You try to lift one foot, and then the other, but you don’t try too hard because you can breathe now and that’s all that matters. You take a breath, perfumed with a soft breeze from the coastline. Ivy sprouts from your fingertips, coiling up your arms like delicate veins of jade. Tendrils of moss drop down from the trees and slowly wrap around your limbs. They massage your muscles, working deeper and deeper inside.

You tilt your head back and laugh. Deep, joyful laughter, resonating from the depths of your soul. Your body has never felt such nourishment. The green seeps in from all sides. Your heart leaps in ecstasy, slows, and then stops. Consciousness remains. Nay, consciousness replaces a previous unconsciousness. Your roots thicken, your limbs thicken. You remember things. Time passes, and with time, time becomes irrelevant.

In the forests of the Northwest, there are no trees at all. There are only the souls of those who were blessed with wanderlust.