Sunday, July 31, 2011

Upside-Down in Mother Nature's Arms

The photo above shows a clump of moss and lichen clinging to the skeletal branch of an old spruce tree. Not very unusual at first glance, I suppose, especially since it was taken in southeast Alaska, where moss grows like grass and spruce trees are numerous.

No, what is unique about this beautiful, mossy image is that it was taken from nearly 50 feet in the air by a wet, slippery, and unsure photographer; me. I was lured to a ziplining excursion in Ketchikan on a day even most southeast Alaska residents would call "too wet," along with a group of adventursome (or foolish) other people gathered to propell, rapell, and zip our way from treetop to treetop in a sort of Tarzan-esque experience.

I'm not afraid of heights but I do possess a number of control issues, just ask my kayak instructor and the pilot who flew me out to Hallo Bay last month. The very idea of sliding rapidly down a mountain with nothing but nylon butt straps between me and the forest duff below was not really my idea of a great time. But I did it, and ultimately loved it.

I am the daughter of a forester who taught uhis kids to look up. Up at the sky beyond the tippy tops of evergreen trees, up at the frosty green leaves and branches whose arms stretched to the heavens. I never believed one day I'd be standing among them, on their terms, held tenuously within their generous hands.

That clump of moss with the little sword fern growing out of its deteriorating branch would not have been found near the ground. It grows only there, and in that way, and I would have missed it had I said "no thanks" to the ziplining invite.

It was quiet up there in the trees; the rain made tentative taps upon my helmet and against the decking of the 5' X 5' platform we stood upon as we waited our turn to zip. Occasionally, the wind would gently move each individual tree back and forth with a rhythm that was, surprisingly, not scary at all.

Perhaps Mother Nature is less scary than we think, if given the proper respect. Perhaps Life is, as well.

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