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Posted Monday, April 6, 2020
— Connections 2020 Spring

"Hope" by Harald Aksdal

A wetland complex created by beavers. Photo credit: Charlie Hancock.

Hudson and I were on a parcel in Berkshire last week. For those who haven’t met him, Hudson’s around seven, he’s never happier than when he’s loose in the forest, and he has an addiction to digging up rocks and carrying them around in his mouth. I should also note that he’s a dog, a lab-whippet mix (I think). On this day, we discovered a massive wetland complex tucked in a large block of forest, surrounded by agricultural fields, rich with a pungent smell of spring and wet earth. This wetland didn’t show up on our map, or the areal imagery we had on hand, as this was the work of a colony of beavers which had moved in since my last visit to the property about ten years ago. Acres and acres had been transformed, and as we stood marveling at what these little engineers had created I felt a familiar calm. A calm that’s been absent these past couple weeks, as we’ve collectively faced a world none of us could have imagined just a short time ago. It was as if everything else had fallen away, and I was grounded again. Right about then was when Hudson decided that March wasn’t too early for a swim, and he plunged right in with as much grace as a little kid tearing into Halloween candy.    

We’re lucky to live here. We all know that, but sometimes we forget. The world moves, and us with it—and now it’s moving faster than ever. Each day brings a new revelation that makes us question some of the most basic tenants of daily life, and each day I’m more grateful that we live in (and are part of) a landscape with offers us an escape, and a sense of peace. A form of solace, and a sense of the familiar during a time when these feeling are in such short supply. In the coming weeks, as we continue to navigate and adapt, don’t forget that – to paraphrase John Muir – going to the forest is going home.

Soon the trout lily will bloom, the serviceberry will blossom, and the morning chorus will return. This year however, I know I will see these things differently. They will come as small assurances that while the world spins, our feet stay on the ground. There’s a painting by Harald Aksdal that hangs in our living room titled “Hope”. It shows a small plant, perhaps a sedge, poking up through the duff in an otherwise gray forest, surrounded by downed wood, and framed by stems reaching for the canopy. It’s one of many Aksdal works found through our house, but this one particularly draws my attention each spring...and never more so than this one. Aksdal captures it perfectly—that our forests offer hope.

We’ll get through this together, not just as a community but as a family. So to our Cold Hollow Family, much love, stay healthy, and look out for each other. We’re in this together.

With love and gratitude,
You’re friends at Cold Hollow to Canada