I went hiking in the woods yesterday. The winds of the open prairie were just too much to take and I needed a place to rest my soul. So, I headed to the one spot that has brought me peace, quiet and insight. Since my last visit, more logging and clearing had taken place, both along the trails and in a new section of the park.
It was notably a time of in between. The forest floor was just beginning to send forth signs of new life poking expectantly from the carpet of matted leaves. Still, the woods were far from shooting new growth and the dead grasses and cattails of the bordering wetlands were of tans and brown. It was a refreshing walk speckled with sightings of numerous migrating flickers, an over-abundance of robins, a pileated woodpecker sounding out his territory and a pair of eagles soaring overhead.
It was while on my return loop that I noticed the old decaying stump glowing in the hour of golden light. It was obvious that the loggers saw had cut through all but the last remaining fibers of strength before the falling top had snapped off, then was portioned and carried away. That had been long ago as no remains of protective bark were evident. Today the weathered stump was all that remained of what once had shaded the forest floor. Decay and fungal growth now were engaged in the slow but deliberate process of returning its striated remains to the earth. Yes, this old tree had died long ago but all around it was nourishing new life that sprung up green in the waning moments of daylight. But that was the key. Yes, this old tree had died but with that death came birth and the passing of life.