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worship
adoring reverence or regard

Deference. If asked, “What is your house of worship? Where do you find comfort and solace?”, my answer would be, “The forest.” I have always felt sheltered and present in the woods. Dysphoria melts into mindfulness. I am happily lost in the presence of such grandeur.

enduring
lasting; permanent

Perennial Questions. The strength of root and branch, the ability to bow and give to nature’s force, what is this balance? How does the constant weight of snow, the perpetual force of the wind shape trunk and limb? You are over a century old, will you live another?

root
the fundamental or essential part

Foundation. Root over rock, here my seed alighted and here I must stay. Granite and flora, a stark contrast between the inert and the living – an inspiration to adapt, remain steadfast, to prosper. I am awed by the energy it takes to root oneself.

community
an interacting population of various kinds of individuals in a common location

Collective Ownership. Below the forest canopy, below the forest understory is a vast network of fungal connections known as the mycorrhizal network. These filaments of fungi, growing in amongst the roots, are the interlacing connections that bond each individual tree into an integrated system – transferring information and nutrients back and forth. Point in fact, a dying tree will share its stored supply of food with neighbors. Perhaps a last act of altruism to support the forest community.

path
a way or track laid down for walking or made by continual treading

Succession. There is something special about winding through a wooded area following the footsteps of strangers. The path becomes a metaphor for a journey, a culmination of all who have passed.

mystical
mystic; of or relating to supernatural agencies, affairs, occurrences, etc.

Metamorphosis. The magic of the woods is ever present – forms fading and thrusting forward, some geometric, some anthropomorphic. How can imaginary beings not exist?
I remember as a child, walking home at dusk. As the light faded and the katydids’ and peepers’ rhythmic drone filled my ears, the scrub pines of Cape Cod would transform into gnarled and wicked shapes. I would try to look straight ahead and tell myself not to run, for evil smells fear. Once I was through the woods, I would bolt for safety and the glowing lights of home.

ephemeral
lasting a very short time; short-lived; transitory

Fleeting Moments. Left with a nagging sense of responsibility to record the moment, transience has always unnerved me. If not captured, the moment may never have existed. The forest has taught me to slow down and observe. I have learned that the celebration of ephemera is an everlasting practice. And, if you happen to record the moment, that is simply a bonus.

lucent
marked by clarity or translucence

Light. In the woods, I feel transparent.
Not invisible, but in a sense porous,
as if the light could pass through my skin and bones.
Forest shadows reaching toward me,
I half expect, when I turn around,
to see a continuation of their shapes
and not mine.

frame
something composed of parts fitted together and united

Acknowledgment. How noble these trees,
how they display the vista, pulling its
likeness between them into balance.
I return to this spot season after season,
hoping these trees will outlive me,
hoping this frame is never altered.

death
the act of dying; the end of life; the total and permanent cessation of all the vital functions of an organism

Mortal Wish. When I die, I wish a thousand living things will sprout from my corpse.

 

 

About Author

Jeffrey Coolidge
Jeffrey Coolidge

Jeffrey Coolidge is a photographer living and working in Massachusetts. His client’s include Medtronic, Johnson & Johnson, Fed-X and Staples. Jeffrey is an active photo contributor to Getty Images.


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