My Chestnut Stump

The breeze blowing my bangs and caressing my cheeks, I run. Through the rhododendron archway, really more like a tunnel extending from just beyond the side lawn, down the hill, and well into our woods. I run through the level area of our woods, where I once found oyster mushrooms growing all the way up a tall stump, to the old stone wall marking the edge of our property. I step carefully onto the wobbly, jumbled stones, then leap lightly into the sanctuary—Butler Sanctuary, my sanctuary.

Slowing, I meander through young birch and maple trees, pausing to twist off a twig of black birch. Chewing it to taste its wintermint flavor, I continue through the birches till I get to the main trail through the sanctuary. I turn to my right onto the wide, dirt trail and then launch myself down the eroded hill, leaping from rock to ridge, ricocheting to the next narrow ridge beside water-gouged gashes. With increasing momentum, I feel like a fledgling bird attempting my first flights.

As the trail levels out and becomes smoother, I drop into an easy jog, looking from side to side at grassy knolls scattered throughout open woods. Somehow, I don’t know why, patches of native grasses in sun-dappled woods always catch my attention and fill my heart in some way beyond words.

I watch for the narrow path, barely visible, that leads to the left, over dry rock ridges dressed in soft green lichen, stretching between oaks and the occasional white birch. Following the path, I slow to a walk, stepping softly and silently, anticipation rising inside me.

Passing under a tall oak with spreading branches, I slow, then stop. The Chestnut Stump stands before me, his ribs spiraling upward, his smooth, worn wood grey and burnished with age, now glowing golden in the evening sun. He stands taller than I and much too big to encircle with my arms, and I gaze in wonder at his elegant grace, his timeless stance. Tiny lichens grow right up to his base, green with red, matchstick-like stalks. Crumbled rock spreads side to side, and a rocky precipice of boulders drops far down in front of him. His jagged upper reaches stretch skyward and, following the spiral lines, I gaze as my Chestnut Stump points silently up to golden clouds.

I always felt a sense of awe as I approached The Chestnut Stump. I had never seen a living American Chestnut in all its glory, but this stump stood with a dignity not common among the trees in the sanctuary. Majestic even in death, my Chestnut stood with purpose, connecting heaven and earth for me

A to Z April Blogging C

Storm at Schoodic

Storm 2
Schoodic Storm II Painted from my car

Tap, tap, tap, tap, tap… I snuggle under my covers in the chilly room, lulled by the steady tapping of rain against the high windows. Suddenly the tapping becomes a loud drumming, accompanied by a sudden roar of wind, and I awaken fully, remembering that a huge storm has been predicted for today. I burrow my face into the enticing warmth of my pillow for another minute as I savor the sounds of the storm, then I leap from bed, and quickly pull on woolen long johns, jeans, turtleneck, two wool sweaters, a fleece vest, and, finally, my winter jacket, scarf, and hat. Grabbing keys and art supplies, I dash through pelting rain to my car, then head towards Schoodic Point.

Between the lingering dark of night, the heavy dark of storm, and the downpour of rain, I can barely see through my windshield. I don’t get far before I stop to stare in wonder at moving mountains of white standing out against the darkness, advancing across Arey Cove—white-capped crests rolling steadily toward shore, then crashing in mighty explosions of foam along what I know is a cobble beach, now buried beneath wildly churning water. Barely visible on the far side of the cove, giant liquid fingers reach up again and again to the heights of the granite cliffs of Little Moose Island.

I turn back to the road and drive carefully up to the point, round the curve into the parking lot, and stop. Mountains of salt water, more immense by far than the waves in the cove below, catapult themselves toward land, hurling raging waters against the pink granite that twelve hours earlier had been so serenely clothed in the soft glow of evening light. As each wave crashes with thunderous roar, burying the rocky point beneath roiling foam and swirling waters, spray leaps skyward, though no sky can be seen through the rain—waters from below leaping to meet waters from above.

I watch from way above the level of the water, way back from its edge, yet look up to see clouds of spray, blown high and wide by wind, so that my lips taste the sea, as I stand in silence before its awesome power.

Schoodic Storm (Painted from my car)