stumps and dried brush

Walking down Twin Brook Trail on Burnt Meadow Mountain a couple years back I came to an edge where the shade of the forest stopped and the sun shone hard on a swathe of destruction. The trail disappeared into a portion of the forest, about a hundred feet wide, that had been cleared. A scar of exposed earth peppered with stumps and dried brush ran down the side of the mountain. 

There’s a line in the poem “Specimens Collected at the Clear Cut” by Alison Hawthorne Deming that says, “…the forest has one rule: start over making use of what remains.”

Yesterday I returned to Burnt Meadow Mountain with friends. On our descent along Twin Brook Trail we came to the same edge where shade turned to light and I looked down the slope of what had been the harshness of crumpled forest, and saw instead a swathe of green. The forest was emerging anew with the the slow deliberate presence of shrubs and saplings.

Whatever the result of your attempts at life yesterday — failure, success, stillness, anxiety, progress, uncertainty — today is new. Not brand new. Not bleached of all the potential you possess that comes from the days you’ve already lived. Brand newness would be disorienting. You have the residue from all your yesterdays to work with and around. You are a palimpsest of your yesterdays traced on the slate of this present moment. Those etchings are not you, but they are yours. And yours also: The opportunity to scrawl another today.