Glimpses; pages from my journal
Location: The Southern Willamette National Forest
Woodpecker Trail; Loop 3.
The tall pines stand like imperial guards, sheltering the forest from the all-intrusive light. Try as they may, the sun beams like swords pierce through to strike the undergrowth, shocking the vegetation into frozen submission before slowly and methodically feeding it warmth and life.
A small caterpillar sprouts up onto a leaf. It seems strangely out of place here, with its exotic, almost florescent yellows and greens no doubt looking delicious to its most common predator, the Northwestern pine beetle. Still it survives, slowly moving from leaf to leaf as a means of utilizing nature’s subtle camouflage. As I bend down to take a closer look, it coils into a self-defensive ball, exposing only its hard outer shell. Leaning further, I notice that remarkably as it gets sawed in half by a steak knife the exposed sides of its innards seem to ‘glisten’ if you will. -Especially so when sprinkled with common table salt. Then, as the sharp prongs of the fork pierce the former upper half of its body, the worm appears to squirm violently before finally freezing,- almost as if in utter despair, as it is slowly, methodically, fed to a nearby pine beetle.
After finishing the entire caterpillar, the majestic pine beetle seems sluggish and content. Yet it traverses its way back to the familiar pine tree where, with renewed vigor and energy, it will work along with its ten million brothers and sisters to completely decimate the interior wood of every conifer in sight. As I stand absentmindedly picking away at some bark, I consider that in perhaps as little as ten years this whole area will be completely void of all vegetation, thus allowing for a breathtaking new Caterpillar Tractor dealership to sprout up in its place.