Learning about the languages of trees, their social networks, and our own human microbiome forces us to rethink our relationship with “things.” If trees have memories, respond to stress, and communicate, then what can they tell us? Will we listen? Where does one species end and another begin? What happens when we know plants can talk?
~ Katie Holten, Deciphering Words in the Woods (Emergence Magazine)
On Saturday, M and I went for an early hike in Pocomoke State Forest. We did a little shopping first. I could tell you a long story of the drama than ensued at Tractor Supply with two burly white men in their late-40’s/early-50’s who came into the store without masks. I’ll keep it short. They were rude. They hassled and upset the cashier who had the unenviable task of telling them the store policy and state mandate (“wear the damn mask” is how our governor put it). Upon leaving the store, we called the police and I have to say there was something quite satisfying about seeing those two white, privileged, men get a taste of what it is like to have the cops stop you and ask you for your ID as you exit a store.
I mention it because it is a sign of the times. I mention it because just before the event, I had been thinking about fear and denial, and how fear can drive you towards denial. For what seemed like a brief instant, I had a glimpse of understanding why some folks might be reacting the way they are. When we’re afraid, we mistakenly think it is easier to deny what is going on (I keep getting an image of a child with hands over his ears shouting LA! LA! LA! in an effort not to hear). Facing truth might be hard, but denial can be even harder. It allows us to sit with our imagination and every possible scenario rather than be with what is truly going on. I don’t know about you but I have a vivid imagination. It can be much scarier than the truth of a situation if I allow my fears and imagination to run any which way.
At any rate, the two defiant men chased away those thoughts temporarily. Watching them walk into the store, it was clear they knew exactly what they were doing. Just as later in the day I watched two men walk into the fishmonger’s store with their masks below their noses. Or the man who walked in a few minutes later with no mask at all. I have no way of knowing if the behavior was born from denial, but I do know there is a selfishness to it that clearly cannot be denied anymore. There are signs up everywhere telling people why they need to wear a mask. One of my favorites, found all over the internet, is one from a consignment shop that states it pretty clearly:
If you choose not to wear a mask, we respectfully ask that you postpone your visit. We’ll be happy to debate the efficiency of masks with you when this is all over and you come in to sell your dead grandmother’s clothes.
Saturday was a beautiful day for a hike. There were a few clouds around, but it was mostly sunny. M picked our hiking destination. There are quite a few trails in the Pocomoke State Forest. We’ve barely explored them in the time we’ve been here. Now that we have a bunch of maps, we’re going to make an attempt to explore more.
We had to drive a couple of miles on a packed-sand road to get to the parking spot and trailhead. There were not many others out there. We saw a grand total of two people: one hiker and one jogger.
It felt good to be with the trees of the forest, to wander near the swamp and visit with the bald cypresses, and to stop to look at the variety of mosses, fungi, and lichens strewn about. There were a lot of different mosses during the first part of our hike, growing on the sides of the trail and around the base of some of the trees. Below you will find a photo of something I have been unable to identify.
It reminds me, a little, of Spanish moss, but I’ve seen very little Spanish moss here on the Eastern Shore and this was growing on the ground. Or had been growing. Some of it was dry to the touch. It can’t be from lack of water (it was plenty wet out there). Maybe the cold weather put a freeze on it and it died. Whatever the case, there was quite a bit of at the beginning of the hike, including in a clearing up on a hill.
We hiked 3.4 miles. M and I keep talking about taking longer hikes. There is a lot of discussion about working up to it, but I’m beginning to think we need to just do it. We do a lot of walking and hiking. There is no reason we can’t extend the hikes and walks. I am fairly certain we can manage a 6-8 mile hike. It’s not like we’re climbing mountains around here (I think the highest point in the park is about 7 feet above sea level). There is almost no elevation change since the Eastern Shore is so flat. One of the delightful things about the trail we took on Saturday is that there were some small hills. When you don’t have hills or stairs to challenge you, it can feel good to walk on an incline or decline once in a while.
I don’t think there is much more to say or write about the hike. Or the weekend, for that matter. It rained yesterday, quite heavily at times. Near the end of the day it turned to big, fat snowflakes but it was too warm and wet for the snow to stick. It’s sunny today. The turkey vultures have gathered outside the office window to sun themselves on the trees. I love watching as they spread their wings wide and bathe in the light. I’m thinking it might be wise for me to get outside and do something similar while the sun is shining. It looks like we have a lot of clouds and rain coming over the next few days.
As for current events, M watched the Super Bowl here at home (we did not hold or attend a super spreader event). I worked on my art journal, did a little reading, and spent a little time just sitting with one of the cats. Izzy, who has adopted me, is almost always at my side. Bella, who has adopted M, sat with him and watched football. I was reminded of when she was a kitten and she would try to chase the football players on the screen. It took her a while to figure out she couldn’t catch them.
I reckon that’s it from me for today. Thank you for joining me on another meander. Let’s meet out at the Point for sunset. It’s scheduled for 5:34 PM. You’ll want to bundle up. It’s cold and breezy.
Please be safe, be well, and be kind. ♥
A few of the 10,000 reasons to be happy: 1,721) Turkey vultures sunning themselves. 1,722) Morning practices and rituals. There is some comfort in them. 1,723) Mystery. Sometimes we don’t need to know, and sometimes there are no words for what we do know. 1,724) Making messes in my art journal. I’m really beginning to enjoy the play aspects of it. Maybe a better way to put it is that I’m enjoying the process and not giving a hoot about the outcome. 1,725) Watching a video of the Little Wookie and the Little Peanut as they sled down the Sledding Hill at our old place. The ice on the pond is finally thick enough for them to go down the hill and out onto the ice.