Choose Life

February 27, 2017

We hike for miles through winter dormant forest, passing endless gray tree trunks rising from a carpet of brown dead leaves, occasionally punctuated by dappled rocks.  I know the forest is not dead, and yet, the neutral colors for unmeasured miles makes me forget the boundless life just below the surface.

Suddenly, I see a single strawberry plant, bravely sending out leaves in an excess of buoyant hope of spring.  A slate colored boulder is enlivened with a shaggy fringe of green ferns flopping over its edge, as if wearing a wig.  Bright orange fungus beckons my eyes.  In just a few weeks, a boundless carpet of wildflowers will dominate the landscape.  In the midst of winter dormancy, I suddenly realize that LIFE is happening!

Our trail turns up Standing Indian Mountain, and we see evidence of the forest fires which dominated the news just a few months ago at the end of the drought.  A slight dusting of brown leaves cover black ashes across the forest floor.  Carbonized logs crisscross beneath coal-black tree trunks.  I wonder, what has survived?  Will wildflower seeds still germinate without the deep layers of leaf mould to protect them?

And yet, even in this devastation, I see signs of LIFE peeping out.  A log, seared charcoal on its underside, has bright green moss growing across its top!  (That is one tough plant!)  Half-burned clumps of rhododendron leaves support healthy looking buds above.  A moss-filtered spring cascades over rock in a glittering beaded curtain of water.  Yes, life is chosen.

The chorus of a 1782 hymn by Matthias Claudius accompanies me up the rest of the mountain:

All good gifts around us are sent from heaven above,

Then thank the Lord, oh thank the Lord, for all His love.


4 thoughts on “Choose Life

  1. Love your vivid description of the forest as you walk along. Makes me feel like I’m walking beside you.
    Hope you are safe from the snowy weather that is predicted.


  2. You have such an incredible command of the English language! This description truly plants me alongside you — minus the wind, weather, heavy pack, chiggers, etc!! XO


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