Farewell Chlorophyll


Wilderness Ranger Charlie Smillie


By Charlie Smillie, Wilderness Ranger






In my time as a Wilderness Ranger, the forests and trails have been companion and muse:


Farewell Chlorophyll. Farewell to the long evening dusk. Mornings of warm air, muggy afternoon thunderstorms no more. The swimming hole, the basking in the sun but a fond remembrance. Until sweet blooms, cut grass perfume, droning hives of honeybees return, draw summer as a nectar down into your winter roots.


Welcome to the bare branches. Welcome to the grey blanket winter sky. Frost will arrive, just before morning and stay for breakfast. Squeeze tight inside your coat, under the covers, chair drawn close to the heater. Brisk cold thrills the skin, but drives you homeward early. Embrace the hearth of your life, the flickering light in the longest night.

Arkaquah trail in Brasstown Wilderness.

Welcome to the bare branches. Welcome to the grey blanket winter sky. Frost will arrive, just before morning and stay for breakfast. Squeeze tight inside your coat, under the covers, chair drawn close to the heater. Brisk cold thrills the skin, but drives you homeward early. Embrace the hearth of your life, the flickering light in the longest night.


Walk the ridges and hollows for a season. The birds will greet you from the brushy hillside. As you step over stones, slick with rain, they will begin to soak up the warmth of the sun. Flowers will bloom along your path, future windborne seeds. The colors of the forest are a pealing chorus of light. The leaves like lungs take a deep bosom breath and slowly exhale. Take steady strides. The moon will turn and the sun draw near, then slowly recede. Your journey is a planned cycle. Birth. Fertility. Senescence. Sleep.

Tray Mountain.

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