The overlook at Green’s View offered an interesting prospect this morning. The hundred mile view was shortened by the enveloping cloud to less than one hundred feet.
The fog penetrated the forest, hazing and graying views through the trees.
The smell was deliciously tenebrous, seeping into the dim air from the darkness of the soil. Shrews and moles must inhale the same rich earthiness as they burrow.
Although we imagine springtime coming from elsewhere, a warm breeze blowing birds and warmth from the tropics, in reality most of the year’s new life rises from the musty earth, surging through layers of decay.
The first significant signs of this life have now appeared in Shakerag Hollow. Harbinger-of-spring (also called salt-and-pepper plant, Erigenia bulbosa, a carrot relative with an edible tuber) has raised hundreds of tiny blooms over the mountainside, each one standing barely taller than the upper surface of the leaf litter.
Fungi are also poking through, spreading their spores from colored cups.
And the animal world is alive. Hairy woodpeckers call, perhaps starting their breeding season. Orange centipedes lumber across the litter, seeking prey into which to sink their poisoned fangs. Spiders, although withdrawn in their hiding places, have their presence revealed by the foggy air. Every web is a bright cloud of droplets. In some places, funnel-web spiders had strewn the forest floor with dozens of newly constructed traps.
Leaves of toothwort, spring beauty, bloodroot and trillium were unfurling, but their flowers were not yet emerged. Soon, though, the smouldering wet soil will blaze.
This post is a harbinger of spring in my woods, which will follow in a few weeks. Thank you! I can’t wait! But must.
It will be there soon!
I took this photograph at Green’s View in July 2005, while at the Sewanee Writers Workshop. http://tinyurl.com/ar6fb5h The first time I went to an overlook — it was University View — I thought that that was what Heaven must look like.
Thank you for sharing this. When the sky clears, the view is indeed extraordinary.
It feels like the instant before the Big Bang
Yes — thank you for that thought. The Forest Universe is about to expand outward at the speed of Life.
What a lovely post, David. Thank you for this and others, as always.
Thank you, Robley. Glad you enjoyed the post!
I had to look up ‘tenebrous’. I wanted it to mean ‘chewy’, but I’ll take gloomy and obscure.
I think of it as a more chewy form of dark. Hypogeal dimness, to use another mouthful.
These photos are amazing, because they’re of a stage of early Spring when we’re not necessarily looking for beauty in the woods. There is a lot of gray and brown, but you’ve found these bright signs of life.
I see you’ve recently published a book, but might you be interested in submitting some of your photography and writing to a new magazine based in Central Illinois?
In Vivo: Humanities, Sciences & Ecologies is looking for submissions of all kinds focused on social and environmental issues. Our mission is to gather together more experienced photographers and writers like yourself and publish them alongside newer (sometimes student) artists.
More information is available here: http://www.facebook.com/InVivoMagazine and at email@example.com.
-Kristina Gaddy Mulpura
Thank you for visiting this blog. I’m glad that you enjoyed the photos. In Vivo sounds like a great project. I am completely swamped at the moment, but let me see what ideas might emerge for a submission. What is the deadline?
With best wishes, David
In Vivo accepts submissions on a rolling basis.
Thanks for keeping the project in mind!