I consider the oak

In the morning I clomp down from my bedroom, feeling an overnight’s worth of cold press up at me through my bare feet as they press into the chilled wood of each stair. I tick the thermostat up a couple degrees, hear the click, and a few moments later the rumble of my furnace shaking itself awake in the basement. 

I move toward coffee by way of electric kettle and french press. I move toward breakfast by way of stove top and frying pan. I check in with all the creatures that share my warming house and, with boots on my feet now, I cross the threshold of morning routine into the oncoming day. I step outside.

The first thing that greets me outside is the scent of woodsmoke from my neighbor’s chimney. It’s delicious. I breathe in deeper, and my inhale invites a constellation of smells together in one moment. The woodsmoke mingles with pine bough, exhaust, nearby river, and salted ice.

But the woodsmoke holds my attention. I map the lineage of the smoke and of the heat that now fills my neighbor’s house. I consider the oak, it’s source. I consider the fire, it’s alchemist. Each wild element comes alive in my imagination. Then I take a sip of my coffee and its elemental narrative also unfurls with a blink.

I’m two breaths and one sip into the oncoming day and already wildness is peaking at me through the shroud of my every routine. 

Not every morning is this obvious, but wow, this one was.


Thanks for prompting this reflection:

Neighbor Dave, and Aldo Leopold’s reflection on the Good Oak in “A Sand County Almanac”

Aram Mitchell

Renewal in the Wilderness, 20 Roberts Street, Falmouth, ME, 04105