Light in the Forest

Since I was a kid, I have camped in the woods along the central coast of Oregon. Nights and mornings were cool, so on the days we stayed in our campsite, we spent a lot time moving our chairs from one spot of sun to another. Few things are more beautiful than morning sun filtering through the cedars, spruce, hemlock, and Douglas firs. It is a cathedral of moving light.

The early morning sunlight slants through the mist and smoke of campfires, making golden paths to the tree tops where warblers and cedar waxwings warm themselves. For a while, light and morning dew fall together through the trees. The Sitka spruces are especially skilled at capturing dew and making their own rain.

Later the wind picks up. The swaying of the tree tops creates a strobe effect as the sunlight is turned on and off by the breeze. We often chase the spots of sun in vain. We discover ourselves in the shadows before we have read more than a few pages.

As the day warms, we spend less time chasing the sun. We are content to sit still with our books and accept the dance of shadow and light around us. Gray jays or Stellar jays visit the camp. Wilson warblers, with their lovely black berets, hop in the thickets of salmon berry. Bits of chewed Douglas fir cones rain down from the squirrels in the tree tops.

The light through the trees turns golden in the setting sun. The yellow-green moss on the branches glows. The sun is gentled by leaves, needles, and moss until we feel washed in a tide of light.

Right before sunset only the tops of the trees are crowned with glory as darkness gathers underneath. As the wind dies down, we hear more clearly the distant roar of the surf. We accept the darkness, but are thankful for the light that moved like random grace through the trees.

About Mark

I live in Myrtle Point, Oregon with my wife Teckla and am the father of four boys. Currently I teach writing and literature at Southwest Oregon Community College. I am a graduate of Myrtle Point High School, Northwest Nazarene College, and have a Masters in English from Washington State University.
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