There are few places I’d rather be than deep in a quiet coniferous forest. Hemlocks are my personal favorites, but balsams bring their own pleasures. While you can find both in any old neighborhood, there’s nothing like a stand of native trees out in the forest.
I found myself kneeling down under a stand of hemlocks this weekend during a hike to see the Lick Brook Falls. The combination of waterfall, mature hemlock trees and solitude was like a jazz trio playing your favorite tune. Instantly familiar, but in a whole new way.
Nature is a source of energy. Like many I’m revitalized in the woods, and especially in the presence of conifers. I was once hiking with a group of friends and found myself well ahead of them in one stretch of trail where I was surrounded by balsam firs. I stopped to wait for them and as my heart rate came down the quiet of the forest drew me in. I became a part of the forest myself for those few minutes until my friends arrived.
I had a similar feeling when I was looking out at the waterfall Sunday. It was a deep contentment with where I was at that moment in time. I’ve gotten that feeling from the swing in a rowing shell when all of us were blessedly in sync and the boat was balanced and moving well. I’ve had that feeling floating underwater in Buzzards Bay when I felt like I was a part of the bay. And I’ve had that feeling of flow and time travel when I’m writing or having a magical conversation with someone special. This is flow and synchronicity, stillness and movement, urgency and timelessness blended together into an energy drink we can swim in.
But back to the hemlocks. I’ve wanted to plant a stand of hemlocks in the woods behind my house, and another stand of them between my house and the neighbors. I’ve lived in this house for twenty years and haven’t done it. Part of that was concern for the invasive species woolly adelgid, which feeds on hemlocks and eventually kills them. I don’t have a great excuse really, and so I’m going to plant a bunch of hemlocks this spring. I may live in this house for another twenty years, or a may move on in a year. Who really knows? But the hemlocks would live on – hopefully a legacy to some quirky dude who shared this place next to the woods once upon a time.