The glacier retreats. Blue ice one mile high. In its wake — gouged earth, ponds, lakes, gravel moraines. The road we walk upon is built of such gravel laid down 10,000 years before. Boulder fields. Granite rocks the size of houses, whales, tanks, mac-trucks, that rafted within the glacier as if they were motes of dust. Nothing green. The ice creates its own weather. At dusk the cold sweeps down its indented, calving blocks and ridges.
Walking the long drive from the cabin to the road, the boulder fields remain, but forest upon forest has grown up around them — Hemlock, Norfolk and White Pine, White Birch, Red Cedar, Swamp Maple and Oak. Each incarnation from seedling to climax growth to death, decay and fall has created a moist, damp soil thick enough to always bear more seedlings, and as they grow, they reach out for deeper soil. They elongate and curve toward earth.
When the soil has thickened atop the boulders, ferns, moss, seedlings follow. They embrace the granite. If they survive blight and insect damage, fire, drought, freezes, the browsing of deer and moose, and if they can reach enough light in this dense, packed green competition of trees, then they will send tendrils into the rock, and over their life of decades and longer, they will begin to crack it, to create the crevices that generation upon generation of forests will cultivate and thus begin to turn these masses into the sand I let drift through my fingers in the shallows of Silver Lake, my presence a mere shadow of a moment in the long secret history of this landscape.
There is nothing here on this fine October morning but the low oceanic push of the wind in the pines, the shusshushshushshush, and when it hesitates, in the interstices, or at night under the weight of a heavy dew, the silence is so profound as if it were the presence of something rather than an absence, as if awake in bed next to my sleeping wife, in a small room with sleeping dogs, everything else has vanished. So when two Loons begin trading their spirit cries at 3 A.M. or a Barred Owl near the window cracks open the air with his sudden, falling calls, I am startled. In this cabin, in this room, our four small fires of energy suddenly feel more valuable because they are so ephemeral, but on that road this morning, a web of continental history came true to me in one example after another of trees grappling boulders. From that image somehow arises the grand progression of interlocking processes that we sleep within, sentient particles within astonishing layers of time. In the darkness of that room I can see the cycles moving across my imagination — sun, wind, sky, summer, heat, storm, lightning, drought, fire, autumn, tree, leaf-fall, death, decay, earth, snow, winter, ice, thaw, spring, rain, flood, seed, seedling, sun, wind, sky, summer ….