In the Glade

     On a recent autumn morning, I took a stroll down into the forest.  After a minute or two, I noticed, about 100 yards farther on, a small sunny patch of ground, amid the surrounding forest shadows.  Drawn to the bright little spot, I walked down the hill to it.

     A few moments later, I was sitting happily among the dried leaves, enjoying the  warmth and cozy smallness of this island of sunshine.  The sunlight brightened the ground on which I sat, a textured blanket of dried leaves.  The blanket was mostly a faded brown, but included here and there yellowish hickory leaves and an occasional red tupelo leaf.  Eaten-out hickory nut shells were strewn about. 

     As I looked up, I noticed the leaves on the trees rustling faintly.  Their slight movement told me something I hadn’t realized;  the merest breeze was whispering through the forest.  Yes, a yellow leaf was  detouring this way and that in the breeze, on its route from high in the hickory tree to the mat of its fellows on the ground.  And nearby, the trunk of a dead tree rested, held up at an angle by its neighboring tall oak.  The dead tree was quite slender, having died while still young.

     As I took in the scene, the word ‘glade’ came to my mind.  It felt good to say it aloud, ‘glade.’  And then again more slowly, ’glade.’ 

     Do I ever hear the word ‘glade?’  Yes, but only as a chemical air freshener.  Never in terms of its actual meaning:  an open, sunny patch in the woods .  No, ‘glade’ is a word I think I’ve encountered only in books, and strictly old ones at that.  Nor do I ever come across the concept of a sunny place in the forest, even without the appellation ’glade.’  

    I wonder if the reason I never come across ‘glade’ as a word or a concept is that humans’ relationship with the forest has changed so greatly.  The world’s forests, once vast, have shrunk drastically.  Most of us now live far removed from any forest landscape.

     But in times past, it was much different.  Forests spread far and wide, and many were dense and dark.  Human settlements, usually tiny, were carved from the forest’s edge.  And the forest loomed large in people’s lives.  It was where they hunted for food, where they got their wood for building, cooking, and warmth.    

     Sitting there in the glade, I pictured those vast, deep forests of old.  I imagined how a hunter or a woodcutter coming upon a glade might feel happiness, how he might pause after his long walk through forest shade to rest, to sit and enjoy the warm sun on his face, how he might savor a respite from his work in the seemingly endless dark woods.–April Moore

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3 Responses to “In the Glade”

  1. Diane Artz Furlong Says:

    A bittersweet moment for sure. I feel fortunate that at any time I can leave the house and enter the nearby woods for a moment’s rest, sitting in a forest glade. Oh, it sounds to me like a painting title…..

  2. April Says:

    Yes, Diane, we are indeed fortunate to be able to just walk outside and sit in the woods. Maybe you will create a painting of a forest glade. . . . . . .:)

  3. Joan Brundage Says:

    Thanks for sharing you experience in the glade. I miss those times in the forest here in the desert of Tucson. For me, I love the shady glades.

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