The untouched areas of the Porcupine Mountains in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan provided inspiration and learning for our group of nature seekers.
The songs of the forest felt alive in my cells. Never have I felt the natural life and death within a forest with such intensity. In this wilderness, death feeds life and life feeds death in a constant celebration.
When I walked or swam in the natural world, I used to try to have no impact. I wanted the life I experienced to go on living as it would if I were not there. I wanted to blend in, to be invisible. I realize now that I am not a visitor to Nature. I am part of it. Now, I hike down the trail and fin over the coral with no particular ego. I am myself, part of everything, no better or worse than anything else, just another life form incorporated into the big picture of Nature.
Everywhere we walked the life of the forest filled the air with its own breath. My challenge was to experience something so alive without expectation. How do I learn to breathe with the forest as a leaf, individual yet all?
It was easy to give yourself up to this untouched wilderness. At times, I felt like there was no separation between what was around me and how I felt inside of myself. In this trance-like state, the land shimmered like a constantly moving mirage.
Going into the Porcupines, the first thing I noticed were the Hemlocks. The last time I saw a Hemlock forest was in New York where the large trees were about thirty feet high. Here there are seventy feet plus trees that have been around for up to 550 years( yes those were babies in 1470). Hemlocks are very selective about where they grow and I could feel that this was home for them.
Walking under these old growth giants was a spiritual experience of wonder and awe at their size and beauty and sensing there was a lot of communication going on between them. Being there felt like enjoying old friends who I had not seen in a very long time and I wanted to lie down on the forest floor and look up at the canopy.
The trees each had a different configuration of limbs and trunks. Interspersed here and there were the seedling hemlocks with their feathery needles. I knew that it would be many, many years before these seedlings reached the forest canopy as hemlocks are very slow growing. My hope is that we take care of our home so that in another 550 years, all can enjoy seeing this magnificent forest.