Revelations

Every walk in the woods is an unfolding of new discoveries. It is easy in our complacency to see what we know, what we have names for. There are the glacier lilies, a shooting star, the leaves of a lupine sprouting in the spring wet ground. There are the first green bristles of the larch, the cones being plucked from the Douglas Fir by the greedy squirrels. We take comfort from seeing these things that we expect to see, feel a certain smugness and self-satisfaction in being able to identify them, maybe even say their names, narrow them to species.

But these are not the things that bring revelation. Revelation comes when you stumble across the scattered bones of a half eaten deer and see the white hairy scat of the coyote and you remember the night, just a few nights ago, when you heard the yipping which increased in tempo, when you could almost hear the keening of celebration and death in the long crescendos of the howling and you know you are standing on sacred ground where one life fed many others and was transformed.

Revelation comes when you see a track in the muddy ground that you cannot name, but you follow it anyway and find the logs where it disappears, only to search for the place where it comes out the other side, bobbing and weaving across the meadow like a drunkard. Then you find where they stop abruptly in scuffled ground near the base of a tree. And you can only guess at the end of the story. An ending that came with the beat of silent wings or a leap of faith up the tree trunk to safety.

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