A cedar grove is a wonderful place to awaken from a dream. The details of this particular dream remain a little fuzzy, but I remember lying there on the deck, gazing at a Milky Way streaked sky, hearing the wind chimes tingle in the warm evening breeze, and feeling very much at peace.
The night before I had taken a final walk up the gulch past the cedars and Jennifer’s home in the woods. In 2003, the Blue Mountain Fire roared up this drainage. The wooden “treehouse” that sprouted from a retired blue bus as its foundation should have burned down then, but volunteer firefighters risked their lives to save this home and its surrounding stand of Western red cedar sentinels.
Walking up that gulch with Erik, we started noticing other things in this desolate, yet slowly regenerating forest. We checked out several large stumps, scattered unevenly in shadows cast by remaining dead snags, some revealing nearly 200 annual growth rings. Probably these Montana giants reached 100 feet high, comparable to those still standing and protecting Jennifer’s summer refuge. Probably they once housed families of red squirrels, or concealed pine martens intent on making a meal out of one.
We noted grand fir and Douglas fir and Western red cedar seedlings inching up between stumps, and Oregon grape, disintegrating fireweed, and purple thistle rioting in every direction. It seemed so chaotic out here, but there was a natural order to it, too. A different environment was emerging, as were different lives. Jennifer was moving to town at the end of September, with new stewards soon arriving to watch over the treehouse home and its forest guardians.
At another friend’s house back in Missoula the following day, upon returning from “The Last Best Big Blue Bus Blast,” I sat in a different place in her newly renovated home, on a white sofa, now facing east, almost immediately startled by a painting I hadn’t noticed before. A picture of a mountain path leading through a regenerating patch of woods catapulted me back to the dream, and to the ghostly gulch beyond the cedar grove.
Both in the dream and in the painting, the early summer image looked so lush and soft as opposed to the stark landscape through which we had walked the evening before. Sunlight filtered toward the forest floor; new growth rose toward the heavens.
What struck me most about the picture, though, was a spirit-like depiction of a person walking down that peaceful path. You could see a faint, halo-like outline of his otherwise transparent body, with no other demarcation between where his life ended, and where that of the forest began.
The forest, perhaps like the transparent man, had been challenged by fire, disease, decay, and other events. Their intertwining lives were regenerating in spite of it all, perhaps both following archetypal patterns of growth and succession and adaptation to change. Maybe, if it all worked out, both would become towering and fully sentient, inspiring wisdom for those just getting started, and yielding sustenance for those who would follow. I wasn’t dreaming after all.
You probably do this on purpose — reflecting the person on the forest trail who really has no edges between him/her and the forest — but I cannot find the edges to your dream. You say, at the end (in a nice circle) that it really isn’t a dream, but I am left wondering where you are, really.
I am with you in the forest, and the piece seems right at home in the forest with all the other images radiating from there … I like that. I go deck, you Erik regenerating forest, painting, to, finally, veteran forests and veteran human beings. I very much like this.
The painting, incidentally, reminds me of Kathleen’s Snow’s painting of the person on the forest trail … that person, too, is simultaneous present, but in a rather ‘spirit’ form; their outline being indistinct.
What I am saying, in a fractured sort of way, is that “dream” plays a pretty small part of this piece, actually.
Incidentally, the photo at the top of the page is really beautiful and peaceful and graceful … is it one of yours?
Thanks for your comments, and yes, the painting in Kathleen’s house is the one described in “A Dream In the Forest”.
I liked what you said about the dream actually playing a smaller part in the piece-that gives me something new to ponder, reflect upon and digest.
I always appreciate thoughtful, observant comments and constructive feedback, so thanks again for taking the time to read this piece and share back how it spoke to you.
See you in writing group, one of these weeks!
The photo at the top of my blog is not mine-it is one of the images available for use at wordpress.com
This recovering Luddite is still hoping and planning on a techno lesson in how to upload his own images here, so stay tuned!