Saturday, 11 July 2015

Deep and Dark and Woodsy

This is extracted from one of the little known books by LM Montgomery, of Anne of Green Gables fame. I always loved the heroine, Valancy Stirling, the plain 29-year-old girl (woman?) whom life had passed by...the one who had been thwarted at every turn, whose own mother didn't love her, whose father was dead, who was looked down on by her clan, who was scared of everybody and everything. And then she finds out she only has a year to live and suddenly, she's not afraid of everything anymore. It was life, a long life, that scared her. But now that she is approaching death, she is finally free to do or say whatever the hell she wanted to before, because there are no consequences, or if there are, they won't be for very long.

Anyway, the following is a passage from a fictional book, Thistle Harvest, that Valancy was reading. Thistle Harvest had been written by John Foster...and nobody knows who he is, but Valancy loved all his books and couldn't get enough of them. His books were ostensibly nature books, but they seemed to hint at something more, something akin to the secret of life.

The woods are so human that to know them one must live with them. An occasional saunter through them, keeping to the well-trodden paths, will never admit us to their intimacy. If we wish to be friends we must seek them out and win them by frequent, reverent visits at all hours; by morning, by noon, and by night; and at all seasons, in spring, in summer, in autumn, in winter. Otherwise we can never really know them and any pretence we may make to the contrary will never impose on them. They have their own effective way of keeping aliens at a distance and shutting their hearts to mere casual sightseers. It is of no use to seek the woods from motive except sheer love of them; they will find us out at once and hide all their sweet, old-word secrets from us. But if they know we come to them because we love them, they will be very kind to us and give us such treasures of beauty and delight as are not bought or sold in any market-place. For the woods, when they give at all, give unstintedly and hold nothing back from their true worshippers. We must go to them lovingly, humbly, patiently, watchfully, and we shall learn what poignant loveliness lurks in the wild places and silent intervals, lying under star shine and sunset, what cadences of unearthly music are harped on aged pine boughs or crooned in copses of fir, what delicate savours exhale from mosses and ferns in sunny corners or on damp brook lands, what dreams and myths and legends of an older time haunt them. Then the immortal heart of the woods will beat against ours and its subtle life will steal into our veins and make us its own forever, so that no matter where we go or how widely we wander we shall yet be drawn back to the forest to find our most enduring kinship.

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