Friday, July 22, 2011

The Watcher

In one short week the landscape has changed dramatically. The power of such a huge tractor was surprising in its impact. Suddenly we have a cleared path for a new pasture fence, a 1500 foot swath ready for electric poles, and the millions of stumps we created that look like multitudes of rude gestures, flipping the bird all over the place? Gone. No longer are we taunted by the ghosts of trees killed (necessarily) to make way for pasture. Big, bad, Bertha II flicked them aside like toothpicks.

Jeremy has fully committed himself to this week of destruction, clearing, smoothing earth and, well, lots of beer drinking, if we're being honest. I've spent a few hours most days helping momentarily and then wandering off into the new spaces he's created amongst the trees. The view has changed and only for the better. And I marvel at the fact that the same dusty acreage I've walked a thousand times has changed shape so quickly and become something new entirely.

Long after the sun set and the night sank into total darkness, we took a walk to the home site and stood at the "garden" gate that leads onto a path towards the "pond" (anything in " " denotes future plans for things that are, currently, huge piles of crap). Jeremy wore his blinding head lamp, slowly turning his head 180 degrees to fully survey the view. As he passed a distant corner of woods, two bright, sharp circles glowed back at us from a low branch. We stared towards the small orbs, so steady and wide that we started to wonder if what we saw was actually a set of eyes or something else. He turned away, plunging them back into darkness and slowly turned back. Again, the two orbs pierced us steadily and we started wondering what shiny object was tangled in the tree. That is, until one of the orbs slowly shrank, slowly became a half moon, then a fingernail shaped crescent, until...nothing but blackness next to one bright orb. "An owl!" we both murmured together, naming the only creature we know that blinks an eye individually.

I whirled around and felt an eery chill on this particularly balmy night. Suddenly, amidst this tangle of forest and vines I felt very tiny, not knowing how many such creatures stared at us this very moment, how many would encircle the house every night and peer inside. It's not a fear but fascination, as we enter the woods and learn how many beasts and spirits shrink into the landscape. It's easy when you rent a machine, put up fences, smooth the ground, and tame the land, to forget that you share this place with what was here before you. I'll try not to forget, and I don't think all these watchers from the woods will let me.

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