It was one branch from a White Pine that broke off from the tree in the snowstorm. But it was as thick as a tree itself.
I saw that it formed a cave the last time I was in the woods, but it was covered in snow then, and the zero-degree temperature kept me moving.
But today it’s warm. Just above freezing with a bright sun and blue sky. The ice and snow are melting. The dogs ran past the fallen tree, but I stopped and peered in.
The pine fell on a slope which probably helped create the cave. The opening in the boughs is big enough for the dogs to easily walk into. I crouched, looking for signs of other animals, Droppings, feathers, hickory and acorn shells. But saw none.
So I crawled in.
The smell of pine surrounded me. As I moved further back under the tree, the snow was replaced by a cushion of pine branches and needles.
I sat down, settled in.
I thought of how in the 1800s, people with Tuberculosis used to go to the Adirondaks to breathe in the fresh air. I’m not sure if the doctors who started those first sanatoriums knew that pine needles are good for the respiratory system.
But I didn’t have to know that either to feel that the pine cave is a healing place.
It didn’t take long for Fate and Zinnia to find me. They came in slowly, taking in the smells. They left, then came back again eager to move on. I wanted to walk too. I needed to move my body after sitting on the floor of my studio all morning painting hankies.
I took a deep breath, looked around me at the soft deep green walls, and promised to come back.
I often fantasize about having a small shelter in the woods. What a wonderful place to meditate the pine cave is. The needles won’t stay green forever, so I want to take advantage of the cave as it is, while it lasts.
It’s starting to get dark and I’m in the house, sitting in the stuffed chair in the corner of the living room writing this. I pause and raise my hand to my face. I can still smell the pitch on my hand though it’s no longer sticky. Soon the smell will be completely gone.
But for now, I close my eyes and breathe it in. I’m back in the woods, in the pine cave, the sun glistening off the snow at the entrance, the shaggy green walls embracing me.