The Earth Under Our Feet

The fallen Maple with hickory shell in the hollow

Yesterday on my walk in the woods, I visited the old broken maple.  Half the tree came down two years ago.  The broken end supported by the trunk, the branches that used to touch the sky, resting on the earth.

Mushrooms line the bark and small animals leave their empty hickory shells at the entrance to the hollow.

Whenever I duck under the leaning branch I wonder if, just at that moment, it will fall. But I, like the dogs and other animals that travel under it, take our chances.

Yesterday, for the first time,  I thought of mouse that might live in the tree.  Of how, to it’s small body it feels like the perfect home.  Sturdy, secure, unmoving.

Yet, someday, the branch will fall.

And I thought how it’s the same with us.  That even when we plant our feet on the earth, at any moment the ground beneath us can shift, like ice melting on a late winters lake.

The life span of a mouse in the wild is between six and eighteen months.  That maple branch fell two years ago.  I wonder how many generations of mice will live in that branch before it falls one last time.

6 thoughts on “The Earth Under Our Feet

  1. Living in Santa Cruz CA during the 7.1 earthquake in 1989 totally altered my relationship to the earth we stand on. That’s what I instantly thought of when you spoke about the ground beneath us shifting. Some enterprising person made tee shirts that said “shift happens” with a graph of the Richter scale on it.
    At the time swarms of insects came up from underground and birds were silent for about 2 weeks, until the after shocks stopped. When we heard the birds again we knew it was finished. The natural world has so much to teach if we pay attention. I love reading about all the things that you see and sense through your attention to nature.

    1. I remember watching live footage on TV after that quake, LoisJean. I can imagine you’d have a different feeling about the earth after experiencing something like that. I’d never heard that about the birds and insects.

  2. Yeah any moment the earth can shift as the East Coast earthquake and aftershock so proves. May the nature spirits continue to protect us.

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