The Next Morning
“Uggh, Ants in my coffee.” She sighed and then she smiled.
Leah had been here in these forests as a child with her Mother, and now; thirty kilometers from the nearest road and at least that far from any errant air-wave trying to invade the solitude. Trudging endless winding forest trails and high, mountain passes. Slippery, wet, and sticky red mud in the morning and later when the forest had relinquished all of its water, hard and narrow tracks sharp with stones and dangerous with divots. Crossing streams and rivulets before the nightly rains turned them into rushing torrents that would instantly sweep a man or beast away to their deaths, although beasts were rarely stupid enough to ford a rushing river when the water was up, smashing them against rocks or fallen trees and leaving them miles downstream to be found by a hungry crocodile after the waters receded. She had been brought here, to this place by these people; her people.
These people, her Mothers people, her people; kind, generous, and ferocious-she had seen that too. She had seen men beaten to death for stealing. It wasn’t so much for what the thief had taken, it was an offense. For these people who lived in this dark dense and foreboding place; this wonderful, beautiful, teeming with life place; to these forest people, thievery was an offense to the senses. Retribution was simple, it kept the darkness from the night and allowed the stars to shine and quieted childish nightmares; it kept fear in the pale.
These people have lived simply for thousands of years, each day gathering nature’s bounties, hunting, cooking, having babies, laughing and crying, living and dying and at the end of each day they would carry nature’s refuse to the edge of the clearing and return it to whom from which it came, the Mother.
When the rats came, when virulent disease came, consensus was reached, usually through the villages’ eldest males, who also listened to their wives diligently for what else is there for an old man to do but drink fermented berries and reminisce, the decision would be made to set fire to the clearing, their grass homes, the common halls, all would burn, and these people would move to the next clearing. The forest would defend itself and keep the fires at bay.
Years later when outsiders came with their superlative ways and their gifts of trade, these people clung to their way of life, health and prosperity. Even now as these outsiders continue to arrive with their gifts of trade, glass vials of medicine, plastic, steel and tin, these people cling voraciously to their own way of life, a life in its twilight. These people who still perceive threat as an offense to the senses, walk to the edge of the clearing with natures’ refuse, although now obtuse and tainted by man’s manipulation in ways that are difficult for them to understand, and they return it to whom from which it came, the Mother. But now the forest can no longer defend itself.
She contemplated these things from her rocky perch as the early morning sun flamed rose, rouge and finally orange upon the emerald canopy below. Revealing within its smiling glow the rising mist as the forest began the daily ritual of exchange; giving water, life’s’ blood, and in its place receiving warmth and vitamins from the sun; nature’s photo-synthesis revealed.
“Daddy, Marco, Load Up.” she shouted.
© 2019 Randy Kroes