The shadow of the grey-blue moon hovers coldly over the spongy green marshland. The dew-dampened pitcher plant, only half full of water and a curled spider corpse stands still in the damp cold of the dawn. It is death still. The air tastes clean and pure, an untouched land, a magical, timeless place. I feel a tingle of something unidentifiable, something that says "this is where you should be right now".
I stare in human wonder, looking as the fading night-time brightens my view. I walk along, alone, yet somehow not lonely in this place. I feel the ground under my feet bounce with every step, the ground luxurious with softness. I am alone on a chore that I don't particularly enjoy, berry picking. I'm here because I need to get away, alone for a while, to think, to escape, and this is my excuse to not be there anymore.
The back breaking exercise will make my body ache from its constant bending but the mindless work will allow me to think, breathe and feel, that is what I need right now.I come upon the golden nuggets easily. They are bakeapples, a native berry, an acquired taste some say, a taste I've acquired. They are ripe now, and this year plentiful, not blighted by the frost that takes them some years. I start in, deciding to shuck the leaves off them as I go. I shuck with my teeth, cringing at the sour juice I taste when occasionally my teeth pierce a delicate skin. And occasionally I eat a soft, over-ripe one, those are the only ones I like uncooked, their sweet, unique taste difficult to resist.
I notice as the sun starts to move higher in the sky that the marsh is not as dead as it first appeared. The occasional dragonfly whips by in a hurried fashion, translucent wings of magic humming. I see hoppers on the ground, tiny green faceless creatures that jump along aimlessly. I work my way along, sitting when I can, bending when I can't. My mind searches for a solution to the problems I've run away from. Nothing too extraordinary, the usual annoyances of human life that makes you want to be away from the humans, particularly those you are closest to. I come up empty.
It's a humid morning. I feel beads of sweat forming on my upper lip as the day warms. I've been working for a while and my little pail seems to be fighting my desire to be finished. I glance in to its depths to discover I have quite a ways to go. I sigh deeply and send a message to the universe to help me with these problems, show me a sign, let me know things will be OK, that things will get better. I sigh again. There is no sign, only berries to pick and life to get in the way.
I walk along when I am startled by the sudden whoosh of a partridge flying out of a low lying bush. Likely it's nest is in there and I got a little too close to. I yell in fright and then laugh in embarrassment though no one but the partridge has watched the exchange. I giggle to myself and suddenly I start to laugh. I feel it bubble up from the depths of my soul and I laugh out loud. I am racked by waves and waves of laughter as the lunacy of the situation overcomes me. I am embarrassed over the judgement of the bird.
There is no one else here to laugh at me. I laugh until I am spent in energy and emotion. How ridiculous to be embarrassed at something no one saw. I am awake, heart still beating wildly but I feel it slowing down as my laughter tapers off.
I look around at the suddenly bright morning I see it has changed. Suddenly the pitcher plants look awake, no longer drooping and wet but more alert, their stems firm, steadfast and strong in the sunshine. I see a light on the marsh, the dark green of the dawn replaced with the help of the sun's rays by an Irish green, rich, warm and friendly. I become aware of chirping, there are birds nearby, likely in the low bushes in the distance, I can hear them sing, nature's orchestra, loud and melodic and suddenly I am happy.I wonder why, although my bucket is no fuller than it was a moment ago, I am happier. Why, instead of being irritated at being startled out of my reverie by the partridge, I am suddenly filled with joy.
I continue to pick the berries, it seems the pail fills faster as I work through my thoughts and feelings as I continue my forage. I drink in the clean oxygen that is sadly so rare on this earth now and look around at the nowhere land I now inhabit.There is magic in this place I think. Something mystical and something unexplainable. My melancholy has ended and I've not resolved a single problem I came to resolve. I've only decided that they aren't as big as I thought they were when I came to this place and that they aren't as insurmountable as I first thought. I only know that in the loneliest places nature has to offer I find I am the least alone.
I finish filling my pail after a while and, my spirit satisfied, I go home.Behind me, in that lonely expansive marsh that has shared its bounty with me, the sun continues to shine and the moon lies in wait for it's turn as sentry to the earth. And beyond the edge of the land, where marsh meets sky, Mother Nature gently smiles a secret smile.