A Forest Talking

Forests have a lot to say, if we listen, look, and shift our focus from human concerns to nature concerns.

Recently friends and I were walking a remote trail in the valley of the Hamma Hamma River in the Olympic Mountains in Washington State. Even though it was late August and a sunny 75 degrees F., it was rain forest lush—mosses, ferns, and Devils Club near all the seeps.

walking through Devil's Club

walking through Devil’s Club


The canopy around us was an even-aged stand of Pacific silver fir with scattered stumps of old trees that had been cut here decades ago at the edge of the Skokomish Wilderness area. Some of the old cedar stumps were six feet in diameter. Huge trees once graced this hillside.

old cedar stump

old cedar stump


“How would it have felt to walk into this forest before it was cut?” I wondered to myself.

an even-aged stand of Pacific silver fir

an even-aged stand of Pacific silver fir


Up and up we climbed—through the forest with its almost uniform-sized trees, across an opening caused by a winter avalanche below the imposing scree slope of Mt. Pershing.

avalanche path below Mt. Pershing

avalanche path below Mt. Pershing


Then we entered a forest that had never experienced saw blades. There we found trees hundreds of feet high and bigger around than the four of us could extend our arms. There was very little underbrush—not much light filtered down to the forest floor here. We four walked in awe.

old growth Douglas fir

old growth Douglas fir


We were walking in another world. Two hundred years ago, maybe five hundred years ago, the cathedral Douglas fir trees surrounding us were seedlings seeking light—youth finding their way amongst the elders of those long ago old growth forests. And now here they are—elders in a world of cell phones, airplanes, and automobiles . . . somehow they have survived blizzards and rock falls and still they contribute to the world the gift of oxygen production, slope stability, and wildlife habitat. Their ability to adapt to ever changing environmental conditions is a model for me.

My job at this point in my life is to survive the vagaries of life and remain a contributing member of my family and community so that I can continue to keep growing/keep holding place. Changes are coming that I cannot begin to foresee and my presence will be needed as surely as this forest depends on the presence of its old ones.

Ann in the old growth forest


3 replies
  1. Meredith Jordan
    Meredith Jordan says:

    Beautiful essay, Ann, Forest Woman, Keeper of the Trees. I know your roots run very deep into the Great Mother. I send you much, much love!

  2. linette harriott
    linette harriott says:

    Lovely to read this blog entry, Ann and now I want to have a look at the rest of the website. It is looking gorgeous.

  3. Carole CottonWinn
    Carole CottonWinn says:

    Ah, Ann, thank you for showing and telling us about your walk in Olympic Park. Takes me back to walks you led us on there with our pilgrimage.
    I treasure that time and those memories. Have now created a ‘forest bed’ in my back yard with help of a Louisiana native landscape architect.
    The most recent addition is a five circuit labyrinth. It woos we outside through out the day. You were a guiding light and gentle mentor is taking me deep into the forest. This I shall remember well, Carole


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