Having little experience with the pine and juniper forests of the Western United States, previous to my relocation to Montana – I found myself looking back fondly to my memories of growing up amongst the deciduous oak and hickory forests of the Midwest. I spent many an hour perched high above an open cornfield, tree-stand tied tightly to the trunk of an oversized White Oak, or Shagbark Hickory. I relate to the sensations that Muir felt during that wind storm, the cacophony of sounds the twisting and dancing trees make as the wind tickles and caresses every branch and twig “The sounds of the storm corresponded gloriously with this wild exuberance of light and motion.” The way that Muir describes the smell of the pine forest “The fragrance of the woods was less marked than that produced during warm rain, when so many balsamic buds and leaves are steeped like tea...the gale was spiced to a very tonic degree.” Is one of my favorite aspects of the western coniferous forests. There is nothing quite like a warm breeze through the pines after a violent spring downpour. The sharp, crisp mountain air percolating through the needles has the inherent ability to comfort the mind and soul simultaneously. Reminding one that there is more to life than the errant requirements of modern civilization.
“Winds are advertisements of all they touch, however much or little we may be able to read them”. Muir reminds us that there is a story within each breeze, however ephemeral it may be. Through this non-direct anthropomorphism of nature, we are reminded of our own mortality. We drift through life, letting each metaphorical branch leave its' mark upon us, leaving our own mark upon it as well.