She came often to the woods, my woods, with her large dogs and her walking staff. I think she lived nearby, but I don’t know. I remember how small she was when her parents first brought her and how they fussed over her so much. Even then, as weak as she was, something about her called to me. Perhaps it was the total ignorance she had of that weakness, or maybe it was how she laughed, that fearless, open laugh.
Seasons came and went and came again as this young thing grew. How strange she seemed to me, growing with the steady growth of the trees themselves and yet so distinctly animal. With each visit she seemed to have gained in stature and gaiety while losing none of her strength-bringing weakness. It was this mixture of frailty and vitality that intrigued me.
There came an autumn when she did not return. Autumn withered into winter and winter begat spring. Spring ripened into summer and summer burned into autumn again; still she did not come. Finally, I mourned her loss. The trees may endure for centuries, but not so the moving things. Their span upon this earth needs must be shortened by their never ceasing movement. I missed her laughter.
Many of her kind came to me after, but they were not her. They lacked her sublimely simple ignorance of self. They knew limits. She knew no boarders. They grew impertinent to my sight and I drove them out of me. Their presence aggravated my grief and my grief hounded me out of the peace of BEING into the fury of DOING.
My woods seemed to grow dark though the sun shone as brightly as before. The moving things took fright of me and the predators grew bold and thirsty. The trees, my faithfully enduring trees, wound themselves in knots as if no longer seeking the nourishing light. The wind was my voice, screaming and roaring about. The rains were my tears,falling upon all that entered my domain as if to drown all with this wild grief.
Many, many seasons passed and I grew tired. I had DONE, yet still I WAS. I was ready to retire back into BEING, yet something nagged at me. The moon grew fat and died twice before that something made itself known.
First I heard the barking of the dogs. They were not the same beasts with which she last visited me, yet somehow their glee sounded so similar. It was as if she could share her very essence with those whose lives she touched,and in sharing, enrich.
Next came the steady thump-ah-thump-ah-thump-ah of a staff striking earth. I quivered. How could it be? Surely no moving thing endured as my trees! Yet the striking continued and grew closer.
Finally, after so much, came the whisper of laughter. It snaked through me, rich and full and warm and, oh, so achingly familiar. She, like my beautiful trees, endured!
But – what strangeness! Another’s laughter joined her and it, too, held that wondrously self-ignorant tone as it tinkled before me! Truly this must be a miracle! Understanding filled me; she, moving thing that she was, had offspring of her own! And I found that I, too, could laugh.