written in damp earth

Day 118

photo by Wilson Alvarez

photo by Wilson Alvarez

There is writing,

like what we see here, on this glowing screen, symbols assigned meaning,

laid out in rows.

And then there is writing,

pressed into damp earth,

5 fingers, four,

telling stories of animals, their movements, their actions, their lives,

legends written in mud, silt, and sand,

crunchy leaves, pine needles, snow,

the land.

photo by Michelle Johnsen

photo by Michelle Johnsen

There’s the two by two bounding of the gray squirrel,

wearing trails into the forest floor, over limbs, up trees, building nests,

balls of leaves with a soft, downy center,

on cold and wet days they reinforce their dwellings against dampness, against cold, carefully carrying  mouthfuls of dry leaves,

into their tidy, cozy homes.

And then there’s the soft sitting track of the rabbit, staggered front paws, larger back,

perfectly round and tiny pellets, left along the way,

gnawed twigs and branches, sheared at a neat angle by sharp teeth,

pathways that lead to the tangled brambles at the edge of the field,

heading somewhere hidden, safe.

And then the tiny hand prints of the Raccoon,

creek side where water licks the land,

steady, plodding,  tracks in a c shaped curve,

pausing here; to catch a crayfish, there; to flip a stone,

clever, nimble, quick.

And there, on the narrow trail through Oak trees, and maples,

heart shaped tracks of the deer,

little mounds of small dark pellets,

tidy footsteps, one by one,

back foot landing almost exactly where the front foot was,

and then bounding, spooked, up to 7, 8, 10, 20! feet apart,

up the hillside, over the fence, through the trees.

Heavy as a man,

careful as a shadow,

nearly invisible in the dimming light of day.

Whole worlds,

busy, happy  lives,

playing out.

Leaving secret messages,

right beneath our feet.

Answers, written in earth.

Waiting to be found.

Just look.

Thank you for listening,



photo by Michelle Johnsen

photo by Michelle Johnsen


One response to “written in damp earth

  1. Oh, YES, oh yes.

    Today was one of those snowy days where I wished (for the hundred thousandth time) for the ability to hover over the ground, not mess up the tracks, and follow them for miles & miles.

    Oh red fox, where did you go?
    Where did you come from?
    What is your story?

    They have so much to teach us!

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