Friday, July 21, 2006

ode to the forest

I go camping this weekend. I could barely sleep last night for excitement. It's not just that I'll be with friends, escaping the city, and enjoying good (sorry, *amazing*) food - courtesy of the two epicurean geniuses accompanying the posse - but that something calls me, every summer, to head north and drink the forest in.
I've loved forests ever since I was little and my family had a cottage on Lake Muskoka for years before it was sold when I was 12. I was a camper and, later, a councellor at Camp Mini-Yo-We on beautiful Mary Lake for about 6 years, and later spent a summer up at Muskoka Woods Sports Resort on Lake Rosseau. I can still remember the specifics of the paths I used to take through and around each forest, particular rocks, trees and views.
In university, I satiated my forest craving by wandering through Principal's Walk at Erindale, sometimes during the day, sometimes at night, sometimes barefoot, sometimes with friends, sometimes alone, in all seasons, and all states of mind. In Korea, camping trips to national parks gave me the same peaceful, wholesome, almost-too-painful joy although it was never quite the same as being in Northern Ontario.
This weekend, Six Mile Lake is the destination and I expect to be visited by familiar sights, smells, sounds, and sensations. I figure this is the reason I felt so at home living in the High Park neighbourhood of Toronto - when it rains, I can smell the wet trees from my apartment.
When the cinematic version of Lord of the Rings came out I was amazed that Peter Jackson and his crew had not only managed to capture the visual artistry of a forest, but also the spirit behind Tolkien's writing - which was more than just an appreciation of forests, but an adoration and affinity with them - as "a man who would actually embrace the trees".
So, here's the question: is it just beauty and/or peace that I find intoxicating about forests or is it something else? Is it a feeling that everything, if only for a second, feels just as it was made to feel. Is it a little glimpse, a sniff, a taste, of Eden? Of heaven? Are we being communicated to by more than the wind and birds and waves? There something eternal, something perfect, hinted at in a forest that makes me want to spend the rest of my life wandering in one.
"We desire a kind of communion with all created things, animate and inanimate. Stones, rivers, birds, trees...In sum, man desires to be in communion with the whole world; he looks for right relationship with all of God's creation. Fairy tales in part reflect that desire."
- Andrew Cuneo, The Talking Beasts of Narnia


Andrea said...

Forests are cool, 'n junk.

Have fun being a park ranger.

Have I told you about my tour guiding job yet? I'm up in the forested lands of Banff and Jasper a few days every week. It's nuts.

Anonymous said...

AS IF our camping trips in Korea were wholesome!!!!