My story starts about seven years ago. In hindsight it has been like a constant “to be continued.”

I had learned of an old growth forest seated on the edge of the Nantahala on the corner of North Carolina. Extremely rare, Joyce Kilmer Memorial is a virgin hardwood forest that sits on 3,800 acres. Many of the trees there are over 400 years old. Upon hearing of this unique gem something within me stirred.

Shortly thereafter, I learned with great sadness that this forest was dying. The Adelgid is a parasite that wreaks havoc on trees, and the Hemlock is particularly susceptible.

I wondered aloud, “Is there nothing that can be done to prevent this devastation?”

My sense of urgency to see this place grew…I made plans to go as soon as the opportunity arose.

But it never did.  I moved to Europe without having visited once.

Back from Europe, I had finally settled into life in the States. It was the summer of 2009, and by now I was determined to make a visit; I only hoped it wasn’t too late.

As the urgency in my heart became a clarion call, I finally just got in my car and drove. Anticipation building for the full 3 hour ride, upon arrival I parked the car like a bat out of hell and hurried to the entrance.

Silly, I know. But I couldn’t seem to help myself.

Pausing, I closed my eyes and breathed deeply of the damp fragrance that pervaded this place. Then, sending out a greeting, I entered.

As I walked through the forest slowly,  I noticed a pulsating energy buzzing up through my feet and into the rest of my body. My hands tingled  in response to the aliveness I felt that was everywhere.

Then I gaped in disbelief as I started to pass by so many Hemlocks that had fallen by now. I felt death everywhere.

But there was also life…everywhere.

I thought aloud, “This is what it must feel like to move through birth, death and rebirth with ease and grace. Transition is only painful when we resist it.

That’s when I spotted Him. A massive Hemlock stood before me. Still alive as if he had been waiting…for something.

As I approached, I noticed his girth was such that four of me couldn’t have wrapped their arms around his trunk.  Kneeling down at the base of his trunk, a fuzzy green pillow of moss invited me to sit. Once seated, I placed my hands on the Hemlock’s bark and closed my eyes. Palpable warmth emanated from him. And I felt a love for this tree that I have not felt since.

Then a moment passed between us – a moment which felt like eternity. The tree showed me a great many things, mostly that which had already come to pass, some that were still yet to come.

Then in a powerful wave of emotion accompanied by images I was jolted with a directive. And I knew exactly what to do…

To Be Continued…

The Song of the Hemlocks: Part 2 

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