Friday, November 11, 2011

The Yin and the Yang of it All

Fern leaf (c) John AshleyI noticed this little bi-colored fern during a walkabout around Avalanche Lake. In form, it becomes a reverse Golden Spiral. In color, it becomes a Yin-yang reflection of its two sides. You could read a lot of things into such a simple creation.

Like balance - when viewed from one angle. Or from a different viewpoint, light and dark, male and female, or life and death. You know, those contrary forces that reside in all things, but only exist in relation to each other. It's been said that the tension that's created between these forces is what gives rise to our creativity.

I'll never know.

What I do know is that, while this little fern is a pretty distraction, winter is knocking at the door. That's why I'm here. I intentionally delayed my hike so that I would reach the end of the trail at dusk - when the first serious snowflakes of winter were forecast to arrive. Walking that thin line between fall colors and winter darkness, alone, here in this wild valley.

When the wind begins blowing in, I start walking out. No sign of bears on my way in, but a bear would probably hear me and just move off anyway. No, this is prime lion habitat, and the mere possibility has my utmost attention - pretty little ferns aside. Lions are the curious ones who watch you from the shadows, silently follow you down the trail, toy with you like a catnip mouse. I've grown complacent in my old age, but sometimes I still like to dangle my toes over the wild edge.

This thick, old-growth forest grows rather dark at dusk. Instead of looking at the trees, I concentrate on the lighter edges in between. On at least two occasions I have failed to spot a crouching mountain lion in broad daylight (they were pointed out by hiking companions), but I look for them tonight anyway. Walkabouts like this help to re-sharpen one's dulled senses.

Two things might happen when you intentionally set about to sharpen your senses. You can emerge hyper-sensitive in the forgotten ways of old. Or, you can concentrate on what might be possible "out there," only to trip over the cedar root that's lying in plain view across your path.

Am I just speaking in metaphors? I'll never tell.