The Forest, The Man

Draft

By Cristy Parker

I can feel the somber crunch beneath my feet as every step is an announcement that I am in the forest. To walk quietly would have to be a conscious act. Awareness does not come easy. My head spins with many distractions and every thought reiterates a thinking existence. I would much rather settle into the green, brown, orange floating on tree limbs. The leaves offer me a symphony, tones of comfort and grounded-ness. I melt into the present, allowing it all in at once. 

What is it about the forest that pulls me into such stillness? The forest does nothing to get my attention but allows itself to be seen. I only have to be still. However, the city is different. Jack hammers force their presence upon me, idling cars smell like a headache and tall grey buildings seem to hold a higher position. It’s the living that seems invisible. Like the man wearing three jackets with toes peek-a-booing threw holes in amber shoes. I remember wondering if his toes collected stories, spying becoming the expertise of the neighborhood.

The smell of pine runs past my nose as if chasing the breeze and I can feel my soles sink into the soft, fallen pine needles. I wonder what it would be like to sleep beneath the green upon a bed of brown pine mulch. I wonder if the man I saw in the city would consider it a worthy place for comfort, bedding down to claim a mattress. The old pine needles that have fallen from the trees give space for new needles, and as the old needles decompose, they give nutrients to the roots and living organisms in the soil. In nature, all that is living, even when discarded, is nurturing to all that is around them.

I can see the man in my mind’s eye pushing the shopping cart with all of his belongings; a plaid wool blanket and two large black garbage bags. However, it was his face that stood out the most; sun-kissed, with eyes as soulful as a saint. His beard, naturally greyed over his sunken checks. I remember he spotted me staring, gave me a toothless smile so genuine my heart melted from the donation.

The wind tickle’s my face and I gaze at the sun high above me just in time to see the sun shoot down golden rays, and like lips parting a smile, the beams move through the openness of the tree’s, lighting up the forest floor, resourcefully giving with meaning and purpose.