Crashing a Forest Party

There was something about the park that caught my eye — like it had been rearranged in a hasty effort or that it was no longer the park that I had spent countless hours walking through. There were freshly strewn branches scattered across the trail and trees that had fallen gracefully across the well worn path. The ground was damp, saturated with water to the point that mini streams flowed over the rocks that used to once help me grip the incline versus slip down it. There were mushrooms pushing through the dirt and sprouting on trees, out of season but still just as powerful and certain as if it had been their time of year to flourish. Pine cones had been thrown everywhere like confetti, showering down from the branches that reached high above my head. The rain barely made it through the thickness of the branches that still created a canopy above my up turned head, and when the wind blew I would think that the rain was picking up but in reality to was just the the trees being shaken dry and the scattered drops from their needles cascading down in one burst that passed with the wind. It was as if the forest itself had held a party the night before and I was walking through the morning aftermath, trying to pick my way through the discarded garments and passed out people without waking anyone to their own world of hurt. The party was not over and there were still a few stragglers left, stumbling about in the wind and I kept a watchful eye on the towering trees that swayed above me, not trusting that they would continue to be able to hold themselves up right. Mo seemed to have received the invitation to the party because he ran ahead of me with enthusiasm that only a dog who loves the trails does. He pranced from fern to fern, smelling where his friends had left their distinctive trail, and bounded in and out of the trees searching for something that I never did manage to see. The forest seemed to welcome him with open arms to the party, and only accepted my presence by association. He was obviously at home, while I was just a bystander who he had been polite enough to invite along for the occasion. Despite there only being two other humans present, we only briefly stopped to converse and comment on what a lovely day it was for being outside, despite the rain and the wind that was just now calming down and allowing the trees a moment of rest. I came across a few fallen soldiers of the forest, split in half and thrown across the undeveloped sections that allowed the plants to grow as freely as they chose. That’s where the heart of the party had been. It looked as if a giant had come along and splintered the trees like toothpicks, casually snapping them in half and then leaving them for dead on the forest floor never to be picked up again. The fallen soldiers changed the entire landscape of the forest. The path that I had once known like the back of my hand now seemed unfamiliar and leading to entirely new places. I felt like an explorer forging new lands with Mo blazing the trails for me. I felt as if the trees had secrets to share and that mysterious things happened in the park after night. There was an eeriness that I could not seem to shake, but it was not one that haunted me, it rather expanded my curiosity and motivated me to dive further and further into the trees so that I might learn the secrets that they kept from me. Mo already knew them though and I was jealous of his obvious connection with the forest — I followed him like a shy friend who was tagging along for my first real college party and clung to his presence so that everyone would know that I was invited and was not just crashing. He frolicked and ran free, ditching me at points in his unbridled excitement to explore further than I was able to go. He bounded up hills and dove underneath ferns, appearing as if he was looking for something, but I knew that he was just running around saying his hellos. He knew every inch of the forest that we covered and even more that I would never see. He blazed his own trails while I was left to follow the ones designated for humans, marking his path in case we needed to find our way back again. I trusted him to never lead me astray and my trust was not misplaced. He would always lead me further than I ever imagined I could go and he was always the motivation for me to be bold enough to attend the party in the first place. He was the friend who got me through the door and then trusted me to find my own niche at the party while he romped around with the old friends he has grown to love. He would always check in with me, making sure that I was alright and not lost, but after a two second check in, he would be off again, running to meet his friends and reach the other end of the forest before night fall. He never seemed to age when he was at a forest party, and the trees seem to shed years off of his life, making him a young puppy again playing with new found friends who could match his energy and spirit. He wore a smile that was contagious and allowed himself to be free in a way that I hope to one day obtain. When the party had to come to an end, he was not sad that it was over but happy that it had ever happened in the first place. He could spend forever in the forest among the trees, but he didn’t for my sake. When I told him I was tired and wanted to go home, he understood and said with a smile, “Okay, let’s go.”

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