Step into the forest and see the little sign on front of the two towering pines that dominate this ruinous forest. It tells you that this forest was planted in 1911, lichen obscuring the flaking paint. Next to it a new plastic sign notes that the area is being closed due to persistent vandalism. Shift back into first and drive up to the campsite that was a feature of vacations since you were 5 years old.
Where the grass and moss once jostled with the pine needles is a mountain of garbage, nature disturbed in garish colour. Paper plates, plastic bags, food scraps and discarded wrappers. This was once an oasis. Now it is a dump. Unwilling to stay a second longer you drive away with a mixture of anger and incredible sadness that it has come to this, that the place of so much joy has been denigrated, abused, defiled. Drive away and realise that you don’t ever want to come back here. In the near distance the sound of chainsaws reminds you that you may never be able to, anyway.
When they left you and this world for what lies beyond, you held onto those markers that they left behind. The scent of clothes, cologne, vanilla, musk and tobacco. The sound of a voice, the humming of a lullaby as you drifted to sleep as a small child. The touch of cool hands and skin that became more like parchment as time wore on.bonfire nights and the taste of cake batter licked from the beater blades on the back step. The miraculous arrival of dew on the cool grass in summer, the billowing of clothes on the line. You held onto these things, these sensations, these places. And then you realised that they too were temporary.
You got older and so did they, the world got smaller and scarier in a different way. If you turn your head just the right way at the right time you might hear the presence, the force behind it all. The same wind that rustles the leaves also tears down cliffs, the pattering rain sings a harmony of the times when flood waters gouge the bones of the earth away. The sun that caresses the skin contains a solar wind that passes through the whole earth and can tear the base fabric of our being, warping, shifting, taking identity. Leaving cancers.
None of it was going to last, but the reason that this is hard is because so much of it was so good.