Hidden away among the thorns, he struts; not passively mind you, but without any discernable purpose. He dodges the advances of the oncoming spikes, bobbing and weaving masterfully through the maze of brambles he calls home. He stops momentarily, just long enough to devour several ripe barberries, then again commences his journey. The trajectory of his trek is north, north east, and up a south facing slope. It’s not a steep incline but its slope, in combination with the thick underbrush serves as sufficient refuge and sanctuary from the meek or lazy. As he reaches the top of the incline the brambles begin to recede, opening up to the lush forest floor carpeted with spongy green moss and decaying leaves. The colors of the dead foliage pale only in comparison to the rich aroma cascading off of them. It comes as a welcome side-effect of their decomposition. This island in the chaos of snarled branches and pricker bushes is watched over by three derelict apple trees. They stand alone as the last remaining residents of what was once a proud orchard.
Long ago some humble farmer had planted these trees to provide nourishment for his livestock and family. Now it is the home to the wild things a man and his dog so diligently seek. To the rarely exposed human eye the presence of the three trees invoke a sense of nostalgia, as if the trees themselves were ancestral portals to a simpler past. Their presence is a comforting reminder of living adaptation, and a connected oneness with the natural world.
Apple trees are to man, the still-living proof that even in our absence human touch is providing for nature and the wild things that inhabit it; intimating that in all things there is a cycle, and a balance. To the King of the Thicket and Burs, they are neither memories nor emotional touchstones; they are trees. The trees are beacons to both man and beast. To man, the beacon is metaphorical and represents something abstract yet entirely tangible. It is an emotional ignition or spiritual catalyst that connects the needs of the past to the hopes of the present. To His Majesty the beacon is more concrete, a physical landmark if you will. It is food, it is shelter and security, and above all it is the nucleus of his kingdom.
His Majesty wastes little time between gnarled trunks of each tree, stopping only momentarily to devour a fallen fruit that proved just too appetizing to evade. His pace is regal and deliberate, traversing that small orchard and its surrounding cover. Every pathway and shadow, every tunnel and zig-zagging shortcut are known to him. At the edge of the orchard he reaches a decrepit moss covered stone wall. The skeletal remains of a large sugar maple lay across the cobbled fence. With a swift flapping motion of his wings and a push from his muscular legs, he perches upon the rough bark. From atop his throne he can clearly see his kingdom in all its wealth and glory. Soon enough he will begin beating the rhythm that will echo out, proclaiming to adversaries and suitors alike that this land is his; and for that reason alone, it is also ours.
BY Landon “The Main’Ah” Knittweis