a walk in the park

Today is day two of a three day weekend. I’ve not had many days off in a row for months, save for two just prior to vacation, then 8 days vacation in Arkansas, and now this. At the end of my walk I could feel my entire body loosening up, letting go of the constant movement of the daily rushing around. Even now I feel an odd negative tightness in the muscles of my forehead as though they, not being held tight in concentration or firm resolve, do not know what to do.

I got up, cropped my hair, and drove to Gresham to pick up my new uniforms at the armory. I had no time to be there, so I just relaxed in going. On the way back I decided to stop at Powell’s Books in downtown Portland. I had intended to peruse all of the aisles of books and sit in the coffee shop and read. Instead I ended up in the Wiccan section, picked out three books (though I really wanted six) and paid for them before leisurely walking around the neighborhood to end up at a Starbucks in the Pearl District.

The books that I had bought were good ones. One is a book that I’ve spied for years now and have always wanted to get it, called “Wheel of the Year: Living a Magical Life” by Pauline Campanelli. Whenever I’ve spied this book in the past I’ve flipped through it and have wanted to incorporate the pages within into my own life. I finally bought it.

Another book that I bought is the first book on witches that I’ve ever bought called “Power of the Witch” by Laurie Cabot. This book was followed by “True Magick”, “Celtic Magick”, “A Dianic Book of Shadows” and finally “Wicca for the Solitary Practitioner” before I initiated myself as a solitary witch. The book isn’t great science, has some flaws, but what book doesn’t have flaws? The wise learn what to incorporate and what to disregard.

The third book was one that really reached out to me, “Greenfire: Making Love with the Goddess” by Sirona Knight. The book is divided up into the 8 seasonal festivals of the pagan calendar and looks at the specific types of union between the God and the Goddess on each one. There are also methods of enacting this energy between your partner and you in each fashion detailed in the book. It delves into psychology, religion, mythology and history and offers a wealth of understanding.
I read for a while until the twilight outside the window called me to venture forth underneath trees. I drove the short drive from the Pearl District down Burnside to the small parking spot where the Wildwood Trail crosses Burnside. There I walked through the Arboretum, taking the Himalayan Pine trail, the Creek Trail, and the Redwood Trail. I went through deep forest to clear hillside to thick underbrush and marveled at every stage. It was twilight, the time between times, a magical time when the day is bidding farewell and the night is announcing its arrival. The air, though not chilly, had beneath it the foretelling of the coming Winter. I could see the dried out berries on the hillside, the youngest leaves on hardwoods begin their turn. In a month the leaves will be falling like snowflakes upon the raspy grass.

An owl quietly announces it’s presence across the way on the ridge beyond me. I have stopped to sit in an open grassy area in the company of a lone pine tree. I’ve discovered that I like the Scots Pine, the Himalayan Pine, and the Bosnian Pine. The diversity of the Arboretum thrills me, for ever few feet that I’ve walked I’ve stopped to wonder at some new plant, or new smell. Mixed in all of this were small tree frogs and crickets and other night-time chorus singers beginning their warm-up of the coming symphony. I was facing East, more or less, and the trees had lost their green to the night. Yet the sky above still had color in it. They sky was a patchwork of clouds of dusky salmon color, still catching the light of the distant setting sun. The hills around me have long ago relinquished the sun’s light, yet the clouds and sky have not and between the rose-tinted clouds were seas of deep, illuminated blue, of turquoise with a dash of purple.

Small grasshoppers bounced across the grass and me while I sat and enjoyed the sounds of the coming night. More and more the children of the sun quieted down while Diana’s followers began to stir. The owl was still quietly whispering across the way. I began to walk back.

On the walk I came upon a tree perched on the side of a hill. Because of this a great many roots were exposed running down the hill. I was reminded of a discussion I had with some while back home in Arkansas recently about the environment and the ecosystem. One had made a comment that environmental regulations are not needed because one could see deer all over the place, everywhere, all the time. I commented that this was not an indication of a healthy ecosystem, but merely that the environment is conducive to that particular species. A large geographic area filled with farms, clearcuts with grasses, and thickets that afford protection from predators, would be an ideal place for deer to multiply. Yet would this also afford other species to likewise survive? Not likely.

Another discussion at another time dealt with trees and forest. In the South, though they are becoming rarer, a large oak tree will be uprooted by a great storm. One will find the tree and the huge hole left behind by the roots. This root pattern must be the same for other trees, right? While it hasn’t explicitly been said by those I talked with in Arkansas, I found this to be a premise in some of their conclusions about the Pacific Northwest, particularly when it came to forest logging practices. I tried to express the geology of the Pacific Northwest, particularly the Cascade Mountains and how dirt was not as abundant as believed. The mountains are solid rock, I would tell them, and what dirt there is is really a mixture of a little dirt with lots of decaying forest. I’ve walked in places where one could not tell where the decaying logs ended and the dirt began. I contend that there is no line. Another thing is the root system. I explained that while giant redwoods are massive, their root structures do not go down as one might expect from discoveries of oak trees in the South. Instead there is a large, expansive, root system, that supports trees. What one might consider a group of individual trees is actually many offshoots from the same root system. Because of the rocky nature of the environment they grow in, the roots do not grow very far down.

Another point of the discussion was ecodiversity. This is a misunderstood point and grossly unappreciated when it comes to the forest. The spotted owl was mentioned. I said that one could keep a spotted owl alive in a large box. This is in agreement of the logging interests that maintain that the owl does not care what age the forest is that it lives in. This is true, it doesn’t. However, what the owl eats, primarily the red tree vole, does. All of the things that the red tree vole needs to survive are found in the forest and likely found in any healthy forest that isn’t old-growth. However, due to the method by which it builds it’s nest, the vole has a small chance of success in building a nest on a tree that is not suitably big enough. These trees are likewise old.

Within the forests is an intricate web where each strand pulls on other strands at the same time. One might be able to cut out a strand here and there, but the complexity of the web suffers. The webs of the Southern forest are lowering in complexity every year. Fortunately initiatives have been put in place to safeguard some remaining forest, as well as reclaim forests for the future.

I thought of ecology as I walked through the night forest. What came to me was fundamentalism and it’s destructive power. Fundamentalist would say that a tree is a tree, that man has a right to log that tree, that things are black and white and are as they appear. Note, I am not referring to a particular religion now, though some do suffer the same drawbacks in their attitude as well. Is cutting a tree wrong? I would say that it is not, if it is done out of respect. Now, I am not trying to convert the world to dancing around trees under the moon, though such would be a welcomed change to be sure, but when I say respect I mean in reverence to the life of not only the tree, but the tree’s impact on the ecosystem around it. The same respect for hunting wildlife for sustenance should likewise be afforded to the land around us. Cutting down a tree for firewood might be okay, yet the wise person would take into consideration the impact on the forest, the watershed, animals that draw on it for sustenance, and so forth. Perhaps there is a better candidate to become firewood or lodging, perhaps not. It is an idiot that carelessly and without thought cuts down all the trees of an area just to satisfy one simple need. Am I anti-logging? No. Do I think the logging industry and government as a whole have been idiots in regards to forestation and the ecosystem? Yes, and it will take more than a couple of PR commercials and billboards to wipe away the evidence of such large-scale neglectful, careless, reckless logging as perpetuated by the industry.

Perhaps the government should raise the prices on timber across the board, raise tariffs on imported lumber, so that we wouldn’t have everything in the world made out of paper. There is so much neglectful paper and wood waste out there. Want to know why we are not truly a digital age? Because paper is so cheap. Why it is so cheap, after witnessing the destruction of the timber companies, is beyond me. As I do not gripe about paying so much for gas, I will not gripe about high paper prices if this is what it takes to get people to seriously take into account what they are doing with their paper products.

How much waste is in the junk-mail system alone?

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