My dad used to point a telescope out of our guest bedroom window on clear nights, swiveling it to see the cratered surface of the moon, the miniscule rings of Saturn or the smattering of stars visible in the suburbs.
In my hometown, the first snow usually falls a little before Halloween. Trick-or-treaters routinely trek up shoveled yet still icy driveways as cold snaps force red and yellow leaves from their branches. Last year, it was early December by the time there was snow on the ground at home.
I spent most of my fall break circumnavigating Kent Island’s tidepools—slipping over mounds of seaweed, hopscotching boulders, singing to periwinkles, bushwhacking a mile in rubber boots and lifting tiny green crabs out of the water. Until I was closed in by the Atlantic in every direction, my experience with the ocean was limited to yearly beach outings and a few whale watching trips in Canada with my family, and I was fascinated by it.
When you think of a forest, maybe you think of an ecosystem. A hierarchy, a function, a mechanism of inputs and outputs driven by competition. Maybe a million tiny elements working asynchronously, maybe a huge, labyrinthine conglomeration of life bound by rain and sunlight and soft dirt.
June, July, August. They run together in my head: traversing mountaintops, skipping towards a yawning sunset, the electric shock to my system stepping into the snowmelt creek. Dry air and heavy head against my pillow.
For eleven weeks, I worked at a summer camp in the Sangre de Cristo mountain range in Colorado.