The Forest Primeval


Each morning, Sydney and I take a long walk on the very quiet street following the same mile and a half route. Every time I pass this tree, my imagination runs wild. But…oddly the first thing I think of each time is a sixth grade memory. My friend, Claire, and I were in Mr. Weiss’ sixth grade class (he was VERY mean!) and we had to memorize two paragraphs from a Henry Wadsworth Longfellow poem. I chose Evangeline and, to this day, remember the first paragraph:

This is the forest primeval. The murmuring pines and the hemlocks,
Bearded with moss, and in garments green, indistinct in the twilight,
Stand like Druids of eld, with voices sad and prophetic,
Stand like harpers hoar, with beards that rest on their bosoms.
Loud from its rocky caverns, the deep-voiced neighboring ocean
Speaks, and in accents disconsolate answers the wail of the forest.

I stop and look at this same tree almost every day and imagine what is living in it, on it, and under its sheltering boughs. Someone told me that the deer in winter lie beneath the trees so I could really picture that. Yesterday I saw a deer crossing the road and again thought of the tree. Last night as I drove to the top of the driveway, I saw a very tiny skunk walking slowly across the drive. A truck had stopped just beside my drive and the man who jumped out was very concerned because there were more trying to cross the road. We watched as all three baby skunks and the mother crossed. The man from the truck asked me if I thought they could spray because he wanted to pick them up and move them to the other side. Having no idea, I said so, but thought they would probably be able to bite! When I returned home, the skunks were on the same side of the road from which they came in the first place. So close to the road that I worried all night and don’t have the courage to see if they are still there. I thought of the shelter that the tree could have provided if only they were just a half mile down the road!

This morning it is raining so we didn’t take our walk and instead watched the turkeys walk up the drive making a racket as they did. This was a great source of concern and entertainment to Sydney of course. I sat on the porch with a cup of coffee and thought about how lucky I am to see these things and have even a passing interaction with area wildlife. Last evening, I could hear the eagles screeching and crows making a lot of noise. Two very small birds flew noisily from one of the nearby trees and I wondered what caused them to get so upset. This is new for me — thinking so much about fauna — I should take a page from my friend, Tom Jacoby, and start taking pictures! Meanwhile, I took lots of pictures of the big tree and nothing did it justice as to its size and beauty. The eastern hemlock is, after all, Pennsylvania’s state tree! Henry Wadsworth Longfellow did better than any photo.