A Secret From The Woods

Zinnia through a hole in a tree.

The woods were damp from the rain the day before.  Water puddled in the fallen leaves and soaked the bark of the trees turning them black and shiny.

I know to go for a walk earlier in the afternoon this time of year.

The sun lowers behind the hill soon after 4 pm making the dreary November days even darker.  But I took my time feeding the animals and mucking the barn so I got into the woods later than I wanted.

I decided on the path that borders the cornfield.  It creates a hopeful prospect emerging from the dark cover of pines to a view of Vermont’s Green Mountains and open sky.

The path to the cornfield circles the thick pine forest, which obscures any evidence that it exists at all until you’re upon it.   Fate and Zinnia ran ahead but I stopped to gaze into the thick tree cover when I saw a glimmer of light.

As I watched, a thin gothic archway appeared on the far edge of the woods.   It kept getting brighter as if I were seeing the sun light up a stained glass window.   Suddenly the stormy blue sky came into focus and the ground glowed yellow.  And then, a deer walked right through the narrow sliver of light and color, her coat turned reddish-brown by the sunlight.

If I had blinked I would have missed her

As the sun inched lower, the archway closed up like a curtain had been drawn.  And then it was gone.  This all happened within seconds.

I still smile when I think of it.  It makes me feel special to have witnessed it. Like the woods and sky came together at that moment to put on a show, just for me.

I know it’s not true and that this kind of miracle happens constantly in nature.

But still, I feel privileged as if I was given a secret, but not to keep.   Because surely the woods know by now that I would want to share it with you.

15 thoughts on “A Secret From The Woods

  1. Hi Maria,
    Thank you for this wonderful glimpse into your afternoon walk, what a treat!
    It reminded me of a Mary Oliver poem.

    When I Am Among The Trees

    When I am among the trees,
    especially the willows and the honey locust,
    equally the beech, the oaks and the pines,
    they give off such hints of gladness.
    I would almost say that they save me, and daily.
    I am so distant from the hope of myself,
    in which I have goodness, and discernment,
    and never hurry through the world
    but walk slowly, and bow often.
    Around me the trees stir in their leaves
    and call out, “Stay awhile.”
    The light flows from their branches.
    And they call again, “It’s simple,” they say,
    “and you too have come
    into the world to do this, to go easy, to be filled
    with light, and to shine.”

    1. Ah, so wonderful to read that poem again Sue. Thank you for it. It’s been a while since I’ve seen it and it always brings me to a good place.

  2. I got all goosebumpy reading this post. The forest is a beautiful place and as you shared, it puts on miraculous shows and we are blessed to participate! Thank you for this beautiful post, I could see the deer in my minds eye!

  3. Here’s David Wagoner’s poem Lost:

    Stand still. The trees ahead and bushes beside you
    Are not lost. Wherever you are is called Here,
    And you must treat it as a powerful stranger,
    Must ask permission to know it and be known.
    The forest breathes. Listen. It answers,
    I have made this place around you.
    If you leave it, you may come back again, saying Here.
    No two trees are the same to Raven.
    No two branches are the same to Wren.
    If what a tree or a bush does is lost on you,
    You are surely lost. Stand still. The forest knows
    Where you are. You must let it find you.

  4. I love the imagery you evoke in your writing Maria, one feels like you are there. I live near the Boise ID foothills and hike there often. The landscape is high desert, shades of brown, tan, bits of color related to the season. One of my favorite things is running my hands over the sage brush to get a little aroma therapy as I walk. Thank you for your writing.

    1. I loved the desert landscape around Taos NM when I lived there for a few months. It sounds similar to what you’re describing Terri. I can almost smell the sage.

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