There is a ravine near my house, so deep and steep even the most bloodthirsty developers shied away. In the early 1900’s it was gifted to the city and has been a park ever since. Walking there is like stepping back in time. Though no longer an old-growth forest, filled with mossy megaliths of interminable age, as it once was, the park still has the feeling of primeval nature. Towering sworn ferns compete with ancient horsetails, fighting for dominance in the swampy creek bed between the trees. Salmonberry canes sprout up here and there, as well as skunk cabbage, dandelions, weeds. The street roars above on a sculpted metal bridge, but in the ravine it is nearly silent. Nature quietly asserting her eternal dominance.
In the center of the ravine a tiny creek flows. Free to the sky for only for a little while before spilling once more into the underground pipes beneath the city, yet it burbles quick and clear, full of life, in the same track carved by its ancestral waters generations ago. Here and there wooden plank bridges cross it, so people and their dogs can walk across instead of dirtying their shoes in the viscous mud along the banks. It is rich mud, fragrant mud, the mud of life.
Once, my husband and I saw an owl, just sitting there on a branch above the creek. So amazing, to see such a wild bird in the heart of the city.
Hiking back up the ravine, I strode on the carcasses of trees dead so many years ago, their great-grandchildren have long since become lumber. Life and death mingle in every aspect of the forest, as seedlings rise from fallen trunks, mushrooms nibble away at stumps, and rain beats it all into a mush. It is beautiful, and ancient, and pure. It could be any time and any moment.
In the forest, I would not be surprised to find a herd of Diplodocus dinosaurs just around the bend. Likewise, it would not amaze me to come upon a futuristic city in the treetops.
If ever there was a portal to another world, it would be there.