I sit at a desk positioned parallel to the railing that separates the loft bedroom and the open air between the floor and ceiling of the Great Hall below. Across this space are large windows revealing the world outside. To my eyes, this forest is like an infinite Matryoshka doll. I can peer into the green depths until my eyes are sore and see no end; there are only more shades of green life.
Between the stately trees are bushes, some spiky, others with smooth branches, some bearing fruit and flowers. Deeper lies the forest floor, home to the moss that thrives on decaying roots, mushrooms, creeping shrubs, and vines, among countless other forms of growth.
I’ve lived in this forest for ten months. I’ve walked through it, lie in its bushes, crawled on its floor, ran through its meadow, and still it is a mystery to me.
The story of a city is written in a human language. Sidewalks are paths for humans to walk upon, roads permit vehicular transportation, and even the trees planted upon boulevards have straightforward purposes clearly defined in human terms.
The forest is a bit different.
As a modern human, I am a newcomer to the forest. I have not yet learned the nuances of its society. This wild world is understood far better by bees and chipmunks than it is by humans of the 21st century.
For most people, there is no reason to uncover the secrets of the forest. It remains a mystery.
I’m learning more and more about the forest ecosystem with each day that I dwell in it. Yesterday, I discovered a mound of dirt dotted with the tunnels created by some burrowing animal. The day before, dozens of large ants tumbled from holes drilled in the tree that I was bucking. And a few days prior, I learned about the nutritional value of the pale blue Oregon grapes that flourish throughout the understory.
Like the visual illusion of infinite rows of trees, leaves, brush, the secrets of the forest seem infinite. What will I stumble across when I wander through the twilight woods today, or tomorrow? The possibilities appear endless to this naïve observer; they entice me deeper into the maze of trees outside, begging me to seek out more.
The woods are still strange, fascinating, full of life but void of the repetitive rhythm of the life that you once knew. And so, the forest regenerates wonder and the liveliness of the heart.