Here you are accosted by the presence of growing things. The world around you defined by every conceivable shade of green and blue, the vaulted sky and the mountains cut against it like layers of construction paper. An unyielding wall of trees huddled at the edge of the earth where they may forever gaze down upon their mirror-selves in viridian waters.
Only where the air is most pure do scraggly beards of lichen hang, like good luck charms, from boughs of cedar and spruce. You see them and breathe deeply, lungs pulling in the moisture of rain and sweetish decay, and you wonder if some part of this primordial forest hasn't already entered your body, begun to colonize you.
At your feet, frail tendrils fight through the deadfall. They know better than to hope for the light of the sun, and so they have adapted, since before the dawn of man, to find strength in the dimness. The sun belongs to the trees alone.
But the rain—the rain can always be counted upon.
Mist, drizzle, downpour. Dripping, sloshing, gathering momentum in puddles and rivulets, dragging leaves and shimmery ribbons of engine oil ever downward until it meets a seething sea. Little fish weaving silver patterns in fertile estuaries. The unassailable rhythm of water to water, and you, caught in between, skin cool and clammy, hair plastered like leeches to your face. It is the price you pay for such greenness. Such life.
When winter comes it does not desiccate or denude but merely dampens. You forget the sun, are forgotten by it, until it deigns to return once again, too-bright through a curtain of condensation, the light refracting, turning droplets to diamond and emerald and sapphire. The fog upon the gunmetal sea retreats, and, if you are especially lucky, you see them, far beyond the breakers: first the knife-edged dorsal fins slashing through the surface, and then the great behemoths themselves, splotches of stark white against black. Geysers erupt into the chill air, so close you can smell them, hear their thunderous exhalations, feel the saline spray against your cheeks. An anointing.
They pass you by, and you send your heart with them into the vast blue fathoms beyond.
Hoping this time won't be the last.
Always afraid it might be.
Maia (she/her) is a Finnish Canadian writer based out of the Gulf Islands. She is currently working on her debut fiction novel.
Twitter handle: @maia_rocklin