Sometimes in the spring there is a scent in the forest like mint.
Sometimes in the fall there is a scent like tea, and the leaves are the color of tea.
You descend into a deep chasm thick with spruce and fir. You are near the sea, and it is rainy and wet, and you have to slap through the salmonberry and fern that hang over the path. Before long you are soaked clear through.
When you arrive at the bottom, something seems to change. The trees seem to pull back. The birds begin to sing as if you are approaching some ceremony.
But it is just a meadow, with a stream.
Clear water flowing over smooth, gray stones.
Wisdom comes forth from the mouth of God and covers the earth like mist, says Sirach. You can see it it now, hanging in the spruce and the hemlock above Nestucca Bay.
Wisdom comes forth from the mouth of God and pours on the earth like hard, winter rain. It runs in the gutters and swells the streams, flooding the fields of the Little Nesctucca.
Wisdom comes forth from the mouth of God and breaks through the trees like sun. It steams the back of the doe that nibbles in the yard.
You have been out walking, looking for God.
She doesn’t startle. She lifts her head and shows you her large, empty eyes, her chin going round and round, and for the first time in your life you can hear her ruminating. Loud and clear as a kid eating cornflakes.
Every morning I am given all this wisdom, and every afternoon I throw it all away.
I can’t pray. I can only walk: the forest is my audience.
There is a hill behind me, and it has always been behind me, and it has been given to me climb, especially in the summer and in the morning when it is cool and soft and I can tell the trees all know and love me.
If I were to die at the top, overlooking the valley, if my body were to drop the trees wouldn’t move. They would never leave me.
They would just keep rising.