Land Journal: September 2014

In August 2013 I moved to Plainfield, Massachusetts, to the foot of Deer Hill/West Mountain, on the edge of the valley of the Westfield River. The journal below is my story of getting to know my new home: the land that stretches up the side of the mountain behind my house.

September 17, 2014: Fall’s Riot of Life

My body covets the sunlight this cool, clear morning. Its light slips down through the trees, warming me at the edge of a small clearing. Spider webs shimmer in the sunlight and my breath billows white; each tiny water droplet distinct within the swirling cloud. The clearing, little bigger than my living room, overflows with colors and textures and life: ferns, some soft green, others turning brown; bright yellow Goldenrod, some nearly as tall as me; clusters of tiny White Wood Asters, looking a bit tattered; the blue globes of Closed Gentians, tucked down in low; and on and on: tall plants and short, big-leaved and small, a rich, messy, riotous, tapestry of life, even at this time of year when the forest is beginning to withdraw and close in, yielding to summer’s end.

September 16, 2014: Fall’s Greenery

The clouds have come down into the forest; a soft gray mist, thinning and thickening, drifting through the trees, muting colors and forms. Rain hammers on the leaves and runs down my back. Then the rain eases up and the mist drifts away. The wet forest feels as green as it did back in May. But looking more closely I find leaves that are starting to change; mostly birch leaves fading to yellow along with a few red maples turning mottled red and nearly purple.

A barred owl appears suddenly, taking off from a branch and flying through the trees, low over the ground, so silent my mind doesn’t want to believe what my eyes have seen. That something so large, flapping his wings so vigorously, should make no sound, feels deeply mysterious.

September 15, 2014: Fall Begins

The forest still feels bright green but there hasn’t been a morning this cold in months, since sometime back in the spring. Then a leaf comes swirling down and I notice high up amidst the green canopy a single red maple whose leaves are a rich burgundy. Fall is here. A couple of the maple’s leaves have fallen into the stream and lie now at the bottom of a small pool, brilliant red jewels under still water. The stream has nearly stopped flowing; it trickles down between rocks over which it cascaded loudly back in the spring.

Go to June 2014