Quiet was the forest way, and the snow would sometimes erupt like a summer fire for an unseen wind that had gathered it suddenly and brought it up like magic. Then there would be just Pines and old Oaks, the frozen pond small but present, or a winter bird going here or there. But, mostly the silence and the good fresh cold air. Up along the perimeter is a strange path with old mushrooms covered in snow, curled up to die, and a sprawling private second forest beyond. You can look and see that not even a rabbit, fox, coyote or deer has passed there. Not even a bird has stopped. There are no tracks. It’s all a peculiar dream thought up by the Whole, Source, by a universal Something. We paused many a time, and the fun of it was that there was no reason to stop. Just to experience the depths of the air, of the nothing and everything as it were.
Going onwards some more, a single house up the way, always a mystery, nobody ever seen around there, and a set of stables far off with surely hay and horses and all of that. Turn the bend then, and enter the forest proper. Some green leaves against reason and logic wait dangling. The sky parts and a bit of blue are seen, whimsical and picaresque. What’s this? A kind old soul approaching, unaffected and non-pretentious, – just walking. And stops to talk.
What kind of dogs? They seem to love you. Things are beautiful out here. I hope they never take away the forest for the stupid urban sprawl.
And so on.
I nod in agreement with everything and laugh.
We part ways. Far away someone is cutting down a tree or doing some kind of work. It echoes through the woodlands. We go the long way and enter an open space, 64 hectares, which is huge, – and again there is nobody, – just trees and paths and the air and the clouds. Just odd winter bushes and the wild red sumac near there waits quietly in the air sometimes the branches arched this way, sometimes that, – but always darkly, intensely red. Gone is the verdant summer. Here is the white snow on pine needles and the opacity of the low cloud cover. Everything is okay. We have hit our mark so to speak and entered the peak of the walk.
And again, before turning back to the denser forest paths, the snow is brought up in the distance by invisible wind. It all pushes suddenly up and up and up twirling like white fire towards one of the openings blue in the heavy winter firmament.
Brian Michael Barbeito
Brian Michael Barbeito is a poet, writer, and photographer. He is the author of Chalk Lines (Fowl Pox Press), and is currently at work on the ongoing written and visual nature narrative titled Pastoral Mosaics, Journeys Through Landscapes Rural.
Matt Luedke is pursuing a Creative Writing Certificate at CCSF. You can often find Matt either hiking, heading up a steep hill on his beloved sticker-covered hybrid bike in the easiest gear, or bundled up at one of SF’s cold beaches with a notebook and pen.