Hot, sweaty, and buzzing; some summer forests offer little sanctuary or solitude. I melt and cringe under the canopy while bugs land in my eyes and nibble on my ankles. The air burns. The water suspended in the air clogs my lungs and presses down on my shoulders. There is no calm.
Other forests, like the rainforests of the Columbia River Gorge, envelope me in the embrace of gem shadows and cool shade. The air doesn’t sizzle, it simmers. Water doesn’t hang unnaturally in the air, it tumbles down mossy walls. There, I can breathe.
I am always quiet in such forests. I walk purposefully, aware that the crack of every twig under my feet interrupts the deep woods symphony. As the sun moves overhead, the glittering emerald landscape shifts. Shadows bask in sunlight, filtered through the trees. I step lightly, careful not to mar the path too heavily with my passing.
Suddenly the forest is not quiet. A great roaring rises up as the path bends. The giggling of the stream is subsumed by the waterfall crashing down the gorge wall.
And there, surrounded by the primordial green and deafened by the rumble of the falls, I know a deep calmness. It is the kind of serenity reserved for starry nights in empty fields, for deep pools and slow rivers, for the silence between old friends and the breathless beauty of a pleasant afternoon.