Sitting in a bed of soft pine needles. They feel wonderful on my feet. The wind blows and more fall around and on me. The sun is filtered by those still grasping, and the light shimmers on the ones still green. The burnt-yellow ones highlight and accent. As the time passes I'm strewn with bunches of five that look like high-speed shuttlecocks. And my sandals become more buried, just as the pine cones gasp with one or two scales.
There is a bright red leaf in the field in front of me. No--a spoon from Sonic, plastic. I toss it in disgust, disappointed at being so fooled. Well, that and the irony and litter. But I'm consoled by the actual red leaf from earlier, which I have pressed in a book I brought with me.
A gust of wind changes west, and the needles drift away from me into the field. But shortly they return to continue their christening.
There is a fallen branch, with a stick protruding up from it almost vertically. It's slight angle makes it seem like a sundial, though its angle lies directly in the shade of the trunk.
The bark feels rough against my back. A few ladybugs have fallen on me and this journal. They are yellow like the fading needles that make my bed. I clear a few pine cones so I can lie down. They bounce on the needles and rest gently on top, breathing fully. The needles tickle my arms--strange that they don't my feet. Then the smell rushes on. Deep pine. A few bunches twirl down gently in the moments of stillness. Then the wind comes and they drop as missiles all around my face. The branches wave at me, greeting me with their urge for me to be silent. In the hush I curl my toes in their gifts, and I feel the prickle of a buried cone. If I lay here long enough, will my toes be scales poking up for breath? I feel like a transcendentalist.
Then the explosions start. Oh it's just the fort not far out of town. There's no real threat here in this, nature's bed. But the continual pounding cannot be drown out by more and more needles falling, nor by their blowing hush. It lasts only a few minutes. Then it is the silence again. A dog barks. A motorcycle a few streets away. The slight hum of a plane overhead. And still the needles fall. And here I sit at 24. Like one in the Black Forest in '44. But I have no gun before me. And needles do not make very good trenches. Still, I send my share of bullets. And the only ones that can hit me are in bunches of five. And if I close my eyes, then there really is no danger.