Thursday, August 12, 2010

A Walk in the Woods

A dog once explored a woods
sniffing the ground
following a deer path
following a bear path
nosing under the leaves and needles on the forest floor

The dog rooted every now and then
just in case he could find a truffle underneath the ground cover
he meandered back and forth, zig zag across a hiking trail
he stopped when a noise would perk his ears
frozen, sniffing the air

Was that a squirrel?
a bird? a rabbit? a raccoon?

Then just as suddenly he'd unfreeze and return to his meandering
his seeking, his hunting, his working, his doing

Were there any other dogs about?
With whom he could form a pack?

Not in these woods, he thought
He smelled the bears
the wolves
a fox
but no other plain old,
short haired, long haired, blue, red, grey, golden, chocolate,
like him

He liked the trees
Some pines smelled like vanilla
others like strawberry
some cinnamon
being a dog, he avoided trees that smelled like chocolate

Some pine trees smelled like sugar
and some just smelled like pine.
The funny thing was
that maple trees didn't really smell much like maple syrup,
just like trees.
Oak trees did smell like oak
but only when it was very warm.

When he came upon an aspen tree
that he had known many years before
he circled the tree
and sniffed at it
and sat down in it's shade to rest

He looked up through it's branches
and the sunlight dances
because the Aspen tree's leaves were quaking in the breeze

The twisting and fluttering of the leaves
made a lovely whispering music
which accompanied the dancing of the sunlight
quite nicely

The tree asked the dog why he was always walking and hunting and rooting or herding or leading,
racing, flushing, watching, guiding and retrieving.
Why didn't he just sit and stay
here in the lovely woods?
"God made me for walking with," said the dog.
"Sometimes I like to heel
other times I like to fetch

"I like to do things for our Maker."

He told the tree that he liked the song
she whispered with her leaves
and how the sun danced with her.
"It sounds just like the Maker's voice," he said.
He told her that he liked to sing too.

"Let's hear a song then," she requested.
The dog barked
and bayed

"Oh my," said the Aspen.
"But that doesn't quite sound like a still small voice.
"Maybe you just need a little practice, perhaps you should spend some time listening to the Maker, then you'll be able to sound more like that," the tree advised.

The dog thought about this
and said that he would do just that
"Give me some time and I will work on it," he told the tree.
"Oh, that would be very nice," said the tree.
"I would very much like to hear you singing with your Master's voice," she said.

The dog went away and climbed a hill
on the edge of a meadow
covered in flowers
and sniffed and sniffed
at the flowers

He flushed out a bevy of butterflies
and they danced and pranced in the air
all around him
he jumped and snapped
and played with the butterflies

He rolled in the grass
and panted and pawed
and could imagine
the Maker giving him a good belly rub

Eventually he meandered back down a trail
and off a trail
and around
and back into
the woods
where eventually
he returned
to the lovely
quaking aspen

She had the loveliest round leaves
they looked so crisp and modern
like they had been designed
and not just grown randomly

Her bark was smoother and more pale
than the dark, rough, jagged bark
which he encountered on so many other trees

He laid down in her shade
and asked her if she'd like to hear
another song.

She answered that, yes,
she was looking forward to hearing
a softer, more heart-felt song

She said that his last song seemed
very business like,
somewhat didactic,
and at times almost urgent,
like he was trying to command the listener
or warn them
or at least trying to hard
to grab their attention.

The dog promised not to growl or howl
and he began to try to sing

It was really more of a monologue
than a song
sort of a soliloquy
about birds and squirrel
and butterflies

The dog whimpered
and whined
and yipped
and yapped

The tree wasn't sure she understood.
"I think if you really wanted to know the Maker's voice,
the best thing would be to just dig in to the ground here in the woods
and stick your feet deep into the soil
and wait for the rain
and put down roots,

that's the best way to
get in tune with nature's rhythms
and become one with
Mother Earth

The dog wanted to
he even tried
but in the end
he just couldn't sit still that long

"I really need to find a pack to run with," said the dog.
"Don't you ever feel like you need to run with the pack?"
he asked the tree.

"Oh, I have lots of Friends
not far away, here in the wood
In fact, I connect with them
and we share our song
and share the sundance."

They remained curious about one another

The tree wished she could connect with the dog's roots

The dog wished he could race the tree or run with her in a pack

"I guess your song is your own," offered the tree consolingly
"it's not the the quaking whisper of my leaves,
but I do hear that you love the Maker
and are excited and have a lot of energy," she said.

The dog sniffed the Aspen
and circled around it's base.
He wished he were a cat or a squirrel or a bear
so that he could climb the tree
and explore more about her.

If only he were a bird or a butterfly
and could sit high in her branches
and listen to her leaves up close.

He thought about digging at her roots
to examine deeper
perhaps find out about
these connections
with her Friends
and with this Mother Earth

How did she know the Maker so well?
What was it like to quake
What was it like to be so tall and yet so deep?

But he longed to get back to following trails
to flushing and watching and shepherding
to barking
and to baying
and howling
and hopefully to finding a truffle or treasure or two

"Maybe you just need to ignore me and go on your way,"
offered the tree,
as if she knew
the doq was restless
and needed to flush and track and lead and wander

 "I could just be a hindrance to you,"she said,
which made the dog melancholy,
for he was fascinated by the tree
and didn't know how long it would be
until he visited her again if he left,
but his legs and his whole body
were feeling restless-

"I have meddled where I need not. I am sorry," said the tree.

"Good bye tree," replied the dog.
He was tempted to use the tree to mark his territory
as dogs are prone to do
but he resisted.

He liked this tree too much
It was it's own, not his anyway
Besides, he knew he could find it again
the next time he was in the woods,
her beauty and her song
and the sundance
would help him find her.

There were plenty of poison oak and ivy
for marking territory
so long as he didn't get too close
or tangled. 

Look out, you stupid poison ivy
Look out, you stupid squirrels.

sang the dog
as he jogged down the trail
and left the woods.

1 comment:

Richard McDavid said...

Nice poem, Ted!