When one tugs at a single thing in nature, he finds it attached to the rest of the world. ~John Muir

It has become impossible for me to sit and watch television or a movie without having something to also keep my hands occupied. At different times of my life, that activity has taken the form of rug latch-hooking and crewel embroidery. I’ve also dabbled in knitting and crocheting, and lately, those are what keep me feeling productive once all my day’s obligations have been met.

Now, I’m not adept at any of these crafts, and I greatly admire those who are. These days, I’m learning a lot from watching online videos and then transferring that new knowledge to a ball of yarn and knitting needles or a crochet hook. I’m not ashamed to say that I am not always successful. But I keep trying, and with each little victory comes that wonderful sense of having accomplished something.

I am in awe of those talented folks who are able to turn yarn into afghans, sweaters, shawls and mittens, those patient and devoted crafters who almost magically turn fibers woven together into products that often boggle the mind in their complexity and intricacy. But there is another sort of joining together of materials that has nothing to do with needles and yarn and everything to do with what nature does with there is to work with out there in woods and fields.

About a month ago, two large trees fell not far from where I live. Considering the strong winds that had blown all that week, it came as no surprise to hear the characteristic loud cracking sound and the subsequent loud thump when those trees hit the ground. The outcome hung in the balance for a few seconds, and I sat here wondering…which of our roofs will be crushed? Turns out that none were, though one did suffer some damage that needed repairing. What remains of those trees sits on the ground now in the form of large stumps, fitting right in with the backdrop of bare tree trunks still standing behind them not far away.

And it is that very scene that spans several acres behind this place that reminds me of the fact that, as much any landscape might appear to be a tangled mess, there is some order in how all its components are organized.

Sick trees are usually the first to fall during high winds. Sometimes we hear them, most times not. But there they lie, stacked upon each other at varying angles, their lower ends once again becoming one with the soil from which they sprang, their upper ends sticking up like spears in some prehistoric drama. Others come to rest against other sturdier trees, their falls broken, their demises no less certain than those of their fallen comrades.

Dead trees are most conspicuous in winter when the earth’s brownness matches that of its surroundings. Aside from the random splash of green supplied by a hemlock or pine bough, it’s a dull gray montage that isn’t particularly pleasant to look at. After a heavy snow, the topsides of most of those fallen boles sport layers of white icing while their undersides remain bare. And in heavy rains, they can appear as piles of black pick-up-sticks across the woodland floor, their former lives spent, their futures yet to be determined by those forces that will eventually consume them.

Yet there is beauty in that disarray, a sort of symmetry born of no apparent planning or design. Or is it? It is a woven tapestry that lets rain and sunlight through and that offers itself up to the processes that will return them to their former states as bits of the moist redolent substance on which the existence of our entire earth depends.

Not long ago, I noticed a flurry of activity outside behind this place. A small flock of turkeys was making its way up, over, and around some of the fallen trees out there. On one downed trunk that had joined another not high off the ground sat a red-tailed hawk, watching, as hawks so patiently do. In the midst of that seemingly tangled mess appeared a thing of beauty, as though some great hand had patiently stitched its form into the fabric of a forest in winter, reminding me that all that grows, even the fallen, has a purpose.

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