Monday, September 10, 2007


Originally uploaded by rod lewis
It’s the time when worshippers gather. I, though, am sitting on a Cypress root that is jutting out from the bank of Cedar Creek, which flows into the Congaree river. The Cypress trees and their roots and knees are reflecting in the lazy water. The sun is moving higher and sending its stray rays at increasingly steeper angles down through one of the highest canopies in the world splashing light on the wildflowers and down through the water to the muddy bottom. Spotlighted in the sun’s rays, minnows and tadpoles dart about and disappear in the black, leaf-dyed shadows. Woodpeckers laugh, hummingbirds buzz, cicadas sing, birds chirp, leaves rustle. A warm, sweet fragrance wisps it’s way down the creek.
The smells of the forest find currents to travel. You may find a path, it may be the right path too, and move swiftly along, passing through jet streams of honeysuckle breeze. The scent comes and goes so swiftly that one might think it lasts for only a moment.
This was my thinking an hour ago. A breeze begins and carries the scent of smiles. It dies away and with it dies the fragrance.
I move along the path, wishing for another wafting. I was walking along Kingsnake Trail. It goes on all day. There are 27,000 acres to traverse. One believes if he stops, ceases forward motion for a moment, then he’s not making progress. He might miss some beauty that awaits up ahead. Truth is, the entire forest is bathed in beauty, it’s not more or less beautiful at any point along the path, and one will reach it soon enough.
But the path is strewn with distractions and inconveniences. Even those things that grab attention and demand a photo and contemplation, eventually become distractions. A snake sunning in the middle of the path is a fascinating find. An exotic looking spider, enormous orbs, an entire cosmopolitan spider world in the space of a cubic meter is a fascination worth stopping for. These are all very exciting encounters. But eventually, one becomes wary of the overwhelming numbers of them. The spiders are ubiquitous and the snakes are surprising. One begins only to focus on avoiding a face full of web and a surprised spider looking for refuge under his collar. He checks every step for coiled snakes, and subterranean yellow-jacket nests.

I walked a mile through spider webs and mosquitoes, bent on seeing the next exciting view up the path. Eventually, I became weary of the anxious feeling of stray strands of spider silk tickling my arms. The very things that caused me fascination and momentary pauses for study and enjoyment had become annoying distractions. When the next sweet breeze crossed my path, I stopped to break from the spider wars and learned that the breeze had not found me, I’d found it. It didn’t die away. I was in a current of wafting wonder, and decided to sit a while. The scent remained. As long as I sat, the breeze that carried it kept meandering by.
Here I am, beside the creek, basking in the lingering quiet of honeysuckle and warm, sweet wild flowers. I’ve also noticed something more than the lingering scent. The distractions have ceased as well. As long as I sit, I’m not fighting spider webs, I will surprise snakes rather than be surprised. Butterflies light on my knees, drawn by the sweet fragrance that I have decided to settle into.
I hope I still smell of honeysuckle when I leave here.