by ELIZABETH BUNTIN (United States)
Issue 1.1 April 2019
There is a certain inscrutability in the mercurial ebb and flow of life in the woods, an unassuming cadence that settles just beyond my naive circumspection. The dry sweep of the wind’s touch is fond and insidious in turns, a balm to smothered lungs and an anesthetic to limp fingers, an inquisitively probing weight that settles around my shoulders and presses behind smudged glasses. It seems that as I squint into its intangible being it peers into my own, discerning with irreverent ease the parts of my soul that I struggle to find in the depths of its casual indifference. Few beings are immune to the frivolous touch of the autumn breeze, abandoning the green vitality of months past for the bronzed garb of winter’s preliminary entourage.
There is no true silence among the slowly deadening stalks of wild bamboo, only the quiet rasping of serrated leaves against the hollow limbs that birthed them. The sunlight seems to burn a path through the air, illuminating the swarms of gnats such that they resemble the dust motes that hang suspended in the stagnation of my bedroom, not flying so much as shuddering through the brilliance. In the glare lies a morbid embroidery of spider silk and minuscule corpses, gleaming ebulliently in the incongruously warming light. There is no shortage of effervescent twittering in the lofty heights of the pine trees, but it is the unruly percussion of acorns tumbling from the tree tops that draws my eye. The accompanying shower of pine straw from the flitting passage of the squirrels above directs my view to the garishly beautiful blue of the watercolor sky, which observes my patch of wilderness with a distant impunity.
There is a certain inscrutability in the forest, but no silence—mosquitoes recite nasally sonnets in my ears and leave loving bites on my inner wrist while the voyeuristic gnats watch—so I clean my glasses and go home.
Elizabeth Bunton, 17, is a junior in high school and has a twin sister, an excessively energetic dog, and a hamster named Xena (after her mother's favorite fictional warrior princess). She enjoys reading, writing, and playing the piano and spends much of her time wresting pencils from her dog's mouth. "Nature Journal" is an account of a walk through her backyard, which is indeed replete with gnats and wild bamboo.