The troll wood has tarted herself up on this windy wet morning. She needn’t bother. I’ve grown to love her without judgment even in November when wind and darkness reduce her to a bare study in earth tones. Still, I appreciate the effort and effect of her yellowing cottonwood leaves against evergreen hills.
As Aki plays hide and seek with a very brave sparrow, I inspect the colorful leaves the woods uses for makeup. From a distance they blend in beauty but close up they are dying and insect bitten and mottled—-A woman’s foundation applied too thickly over tired skin. Pulling back I find the tree still a yellow candle flame flickering in a strengthening wind. Believing that the storm promised in this morning’s marine weather alert has arrived we move deeper into the woods that still sport a thick enough canopy to block some of the rain.
Our trail leads to edge of a pocket lake. On clear days we can look across it at the glacier and surrounding mountains. Today’s rain veils all the glory so my eyes drop to the lake’s surface and count the different shades of lights and darks in the swells. Aki, who could probably benefit from a set of eyeglasses, uses her nose to follow the trail of different creatures that occupy the woods at night. When she suddenly runs an erratic pattern over the mossy forest floor I look up expect to see the target of her attention standing nearby.
Aki might be tracing a beaver’s path. We pass their wood covered house with its entrance submerged a feet few below the lake’s surface. We also pass a foot thick cottonwood tree they fell in years past. The beavers chewed the tree’s base until a only a inch or two of wood remained at the tree’s core, inflicting an hourglass shaped wound. The wind did the rest, snapping off the tree at its reduced base while the beavers are safely at home.
Deep in the woods we find a single cranberry shoot. It’s few leaves offer the only red in a forest dominated by yellows, greens and grays. This is a jewell, its beauty enhanced by closer inspection. How did it end up here a slender representative of its kind in this moss dominated forest? A gardening troll?