Monday, September 6, 2010

Yesterday's woods

I stopped and stared at a pile of scat. Something else was there, but I did not see it for a while. A porcupine's bones. I picked up one piece of vertebrae. The foramen (a fancy word for hole) once held the spinal cord. A sentient being! A little ways away was what was left of the jaw with teeth intact. The teeth were fascinating. They looked like little packets of paper burnt at the edges, only harder (like teeth).

One cedar twisted itself entirely around another tree. Another simply (simply?) twisted up to the sun. They all twist in the same direction. In the southern hemisphere, trees twist in the other direction. I thought of hula hooping. Most of us tend to spin the hoop clockwise. Do folks below the equator tend to spin the other way?

I'm delighted when I have questions like this. I feel grateful I have not lost my almost absurd curiosity.

In the woods, I felt awed, and I'm grateful, too, for that. Once, someone said to me, "Once you've seen one tree, you've seen them all." It was not in jest. Another person said the same thing to me about bald eagles with annoyance when I'd stopped my car to watch one swoop in from the bay.

I'd thought I'd lost all my "firsts" in life, and had been feeling wistful. It is not so. I had never seen a tree scratched by a bear until yesterday , nor had I seen a porcupine's tooth. But even if I had not seen these things, I am never bored by trees or birds or flowers or clouds or even a pile of dung. For this, I suppose I am lucky.

An afterthought: I feel I must have seen a a bear's scratchings before, in the Smoky Mountains certainly. . .but I have forgotten. Recently, someone told me that losing one's memory had a good side - one could re-read one's favorite books and be delighted (or not).