A SPECIAL HAVING THE PRIME OF MY LIFE
One of the advantages of growing older is seeing your children blossom. I am pleased to present this poem by my son. Maybe he does take a little after me?
Cathedral State Park, West Virginia
BY JOHN BARRINGER
I was not completely alone in the forest.
The occasional passing car on highway 24, a few hundred feet away, intermittently reminded me.
The Hemlocks are older than me; older than our nation.
And it is peaceful, walking by myself in the late afternoon.
I scan the soft spots for bear tracks.
Off the trail, the ground is snow-covered.
My thoughts drift back with the age of the trees.
Had an ancient native walked this path?
Would he have brought his family, and shared a meal, as men do today?
Are we connected by these same trees that he walked beneath then, as I do now?
I wonder what he would have wondered.
Would it have occurred to him how different things would be now?
That this place was not eternally the same?
Or would he have been hunting?
It is bear season now.
The hunters are everywhere.
And I don’t have anything bright on.
I’m wearing an old camouflage jacket, olive hat, and black leather gloves.
Beauty surrounds me, and I wish to be immersed.
Majestic tall trees all around,
The murmurings of a brook, rubbing shoulders with rhododendrons;
This place is indeed a cathedral.
All around this pocket of protection the old forest had been mauled, and the land mutilated.
It is beginning to heal, but I am amongst the untouched remnant.
Does the trail loop back soon?
I have not reached the end.
The sun will soon fade behind the next mountain.
It would be unwise to still be on the trail then.
I turn back, following the blood-red blazes, retracing my steps to the waiting car.
I savor my woodland surroundings, slightly more familiar now.
I needn’t have worried about rounding a bend and facing a bear.
Because … it got me from behind.
ABOUT JOHN BARRINGER
John Barringer is a biologist and father of five. Residing in College Park, MD, he looks for meaningful connections in everyday occurrences.
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