A Walk in the Woods

I've really been enjoying reading Walden lately, so here's my attempt at letting nature inspire my thoughts and writing, Thoreau-style. (Intentionally posting no pictures since there are none in my novel and I'm practicing being descriptive. But you can see some in my previous post about a weekend in Cape Tribulation.) 

At first I was striding along annoyed that humans are so helpless that we can't even walk through the woods unaided by a wooden Boardwalk. And then there's the irony of walking on a bunch of dead trees to admire the living ones. But then I slowed down and realized that without the crunching of leaves underfoot, I could walk as silently as a ninja. Of course everything hides when heaps of tourists are traipsing through, but once I became silent and still, the forest came alive around me. I saw birds both in the trees and on the ground. I admired small spiders in their elaborate webs and listened to an omnipresent symphony of insects. 

I heard leaves crunching and witnessed a pair of scrub fowls scratching at the leaf litter. I tried to get a closer look, but they must have sensed my presence and disappeared deeper into the undergrowth. I really liked the thick vines that contorted themselves into corkscrews and were intertwined amongst the mostly straight tree trunks. Tall trees, short trees, thick trunks, skinny trunks, young ferns frolicking around the legs of their parents. It's like I'm a tiny spectator and the trees are the legs of Giants, standing tall and socializing at some eternal and etherial social event, to which I am an uninvited guest. 

For the most part, I was alone. But whenever I did encounter other people, they would scurry past me as if trying to get the walk over with like it was their morning commute to the office and they were whizzing by in the carpool lane. "I have to get there before the coffee is all gone so I don't have to make the next pot." Hardly pausing to stop and admire the deep green magic around them that they have likely traveled hundreds or even thousands of miles to see. This is nature's job- to create and manage everything on earth. What's yours? To create a spreadsheet? Manage a budget? Sorry but you should feel a little insignificant from time to time. Nature never takes a holiday or even a day off.  

Gravity is the force against which everything in the forest must fight, but will succumb to sooner or later. This is evident from the felled trees and myriad fallen leaves and limbs that lie in so many layers along the forest floor. They'll eventually decompose into dirt and then help others defy gravity once again. Does a rotting tree trunk represent life or death? You might be inclined to say death since the life of the wood has come to an end. But in reality the decomposing log sustains more life than ever: moss, fungi, bacteria and a whole host of insects and maybe even small mammals and amphibians may use it for shelter. It's all a simple yet perfect cycle. 

I noticed small, red lily-trumpet shaped flowers strewn along one part of the path but could not find their origin. It was green as far as the eye could see in any direction. They must exist high up in the canopy as vibrant treats for birds and butterflies, beyond my humble visual range. 

The ancient forests faded onto an empty beach. The sand is fine and soft and the ocean was a gradient of green to turquoise to slate blue on the horizon with small yet constant white-capped waves rolling in to shore. The landscape was deserted as far as the eye could see in either direction due to the presence of saltwater crocodiles, which tourists should be well aware of due to the abundance of red and yellow warning signs. A small, mossy-looking mountain rose to the north while the forest continued to border the beach to the south. The sky was muffled with gray clouds which were fluffy mounds towards the horizon, but dissipated and blended into a smooth, gray blanket towards and over the trees. 

It felt strange and foreign to be walking along this beach in boots whereas at home I would be barefoot, feeling the sand beneath and between my toes. Walking towards the water, then turning around, you could see a sliver of mountains rising above the tree line into the gray, misty clouds. It's probably quite breathtaking on days when the sun and sky are friendlier. 

It took me 2 hours to meander down a 1.2 kilometer Boardwalk through a 100 million year old rainforest. I wondered how long it took people to build this long and winding bridge. However long it took, I'm certain it is a microscopic amount of time when compared to how long it has taken nature to build the forest around it. People are forever building barriers between themselves and nature. We build buildings and roads and buses and boats to aid in our own survival, often to the detriment of so many other species that rely on just water, sunlight and whatever makes up their meager diets. It's really pretty incredible when you stop to think about how helpless humanity has become and how that helplessness has compounded with each new technological marvel of the modern day.