Within wildness great beauty reigns. So much of our lives is spent reining in that which is wild, yet with each passing season spent in the heart of Maine’s northern forest greater insight illuminates the true magic of the beauty that dwells within the unkempt abode of natures’ forest. Spending an evening on a still pond which fingers of darkness slowly steal across heightens this understanding. The busy flight of a kingfisher who can alight on a branch for only a few moments, the hum of the tree frogs, the feel of the cool summer breeze as it whisks upon one’s face laden with small midges and mosquitos, these are the precious moments of one’s life. Along the edge of the shore cedars lie russet brown as the water’s upheaval has cyclically turned them from a green thriving tree into a rugged upright perch for a cranberry laden bog. Blackbirds and a chorus of green frog song fills the air as we watch a meadowhen gracefully glide along and then with great dollop fertilize the bog. Certainly uncouth, untamed, unscripted, unplanned. We seek moose, and yet we find loons. Loons which are not preoccupied with our presence but more consumed in their quest for food. A plaintive wailing song pierces the still silence, bringing goose bumps to the flesh, and heralding the call of the wild woods. The loons move effortlessly through the water, ballerinas of the pond, providing their own soul stirring spell binding music which could easily outsell the greatest opera upon the solicitation of tickets. The weeds form mats and provide fodder for the wildlife which surges forth into the inlets to find nourishment. On the end of our trip, in search for moose, our hearts filled with the pink hued sunset laced with purples and golds and the sight of kingbirds squabbling in the trees has consumed our thoughts, when the twisted spirals of old wood and trunks heaved upon the shore and illuminated with golden light has cast Alces alces far from our minds eye….we are rewarded. He lurks in the shadows, flat rack spread wide in the darkness, at least four feet across, wary… We hear his slogging retreat as he moves into the trees. We are not breathing, breath inwardly held, excitement coursing through our veins, we listen in near darkness and then watch as he turns, rack ever so slowly… seconds pass in slow motion, it is catching the last few flecks of the evening sun as it sets perfectly on his outstretched antlers. We stand transfixed as does he, no movement, no sound, an impasse of sorts as we stare each other down. Finally we retreat allowing him to return to his evening ritual free from worry, far from bother, in the untamed sloggy bog, where pitcher plant and sedge grass rules, where frogs dart from shore, where the hum of mosquitoes searching in droves is menacingly audible…within such wildness ..unfettered, unburdened, untamed, here is where the beauty reigns.
This year the roadsides are barren, it has been a poor year for gardens and for wildflowers. Yet within our pathetic patch of tilled earth which I have tried desperately to tame, I find a toad. A huge healthy fat pudgy wudgy toad, feasting upon the bugs and slugs my garden has festooned. So despite the hail, despite the rain, despite my dogged attempts to beat back the persistent weeds in my moments of “me” time, within wildness beauty reins and so is bestowed in the form of the toad. A symbol of luck of fortune or happiness so believed. I’ll take it as a precursor to lighter days ahead, signaling the harvest of squash which shall sally forth, into roasting pans and great bowls of bread and cakes, and perhaps a donut or two.
Despite the dearth in the usual locales along the shore rugosa run wild, fragrant blooms defying logic or care, perfection carried beside sheep laurel and rhodora hidden beneath a cloak of cattails somehow they have prevailed.
Along the stream sides blackberries emerge, great cascades of white blooms, which turn into tannish seed pods now burgeoning with heavy black fruit beckoning ones hands to dally and body to stop to pick a quart or so. Within the woods, the fungi spring forth, in random happenstance, and where tree has been felled, new shoots… the pioneers spring forth, bringing forward food and releasing the next generation of trees which will slowly evolve upwards and adorn the ridges and hills. The deer notice this salient enterprise and instinctually comb the vales and hills searching for prime forage. The days are lit with sun and our wildlife spends this time resting in the woods, at night during the still coolness they become nocturnal, the moose will move to the roadsides the bear will comb the edges, and the raccoons…well they act like raccoons, masked bandits of the woods. Not to be mistaken for Robin Hood they are consistent with the morales of Bonnie and Clyde, marauders of the forest feared by most small citizens and loved by few transients.
Underneath the raspberry brambles, between the hail strewn leaves, across the moss covered fallen limbs, laying askew admidst a pile of moose scat, heeding no attention to proper decorum or attire, rises a blue flag, carelessly out of season, trimmed with red bunchberries at its feet , pitcher plant decaying into the wind, it cares not about the written words of naturalists which call attention to proper soil or temperature, it rises, rebel survivor, purveyor to its own plans, confidence bestowed within its upward growth, and exemplified by its striking violet sea colored blossom, it ascends a symbol of the beauty reigned wildness within.