In mid-May, the leaves burst from the branches. They fill the canopy and shade the forest floor. The fresh, young leaves catch the May sun and cast the most sublime verdant hue.
Thus begins the green time, the age of chlorophyll.
But it will not be long before the ferns and multiflora rose will shade the dappled fawns. Their white spots will mix with the shadows and light, making them all but invisible as they hold their bodies tight to the leaf litter.
I come the forest in May to make my pilgrimage. The months of the austerity are gone. The stark, naked trees of November and the subzero days of January and May are but distant memories. They are washed away in this time when the forests become cathedrals of green. These months are as fleeting as the cold ones, but they appear to be timeless.
Timeless yet ephemeral.
When I was a child, this was the time of poison ivy rashes and first sunburns of the year, but it was also a time to look forward to the nearly limitless freedom of the coming summer vacation.
In the May night, the forest comes alive with the croaks of the Cope’s gray tree frogs. The barred owls call into the darkness, and the first fireflies of the year flash away in the bushes and treetops.
It is a time when I don’t want to hear the jarring of a human voice, especially the loud shouting talk of an American whose talk of the inane and the vacuous seems as starkly out of place as a hyena laughing in the arctic.
My kind knew of these May days. This was the time to sew the seeds and mend the fences and prepare to cut the hay that would feed the stock through those dun-gray days of November and snow-driven days of whiteness that pop up on January and February.
I’ve always belonged to this time and this place.
Yet I’ve always been a stranger to the people around me. Their world is the quad driving through the quagmires of mud, the rebel flag, and the Skoal can in the back pocket.
And though I belong to the time and place, I don’t know that I have a people anymore.
But I do have the May forest and the sun filtering through the leaves.
And with those things I can manage.