The Edge of the Wood

by John Messeder, Nemophilist & Ecological Storyteller

Never Ending Story

Through rain, sleet, snow and drought, Silverstone the Younger watches over the South Mountains, as she has done for at least hundreds of thousands of years — before, certainly, humans arrived in what one day would be called south-central Pennsylvania. We met one day as I wandered in Michaux State Forest, in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, poking her nose into the warmth of the afternoon sun.

The story of Silverstone the Younger is little known and only hintingly told. The younger dragon, a bringer of good luck to young people wherever she chooses to be noticed, floats her granite-colored scales through the ground, her rocky hide rippling almost imperceptibly in her wake.

Time is measured in years by humans but in truth, there is no time. To a dragon, there is only a constantly changing home with periods marked by stages in it ever-changing existence.

“This place will be here long after your great-great-grandchildren have begun imagining their great-great-grandchildren, though what shape it may have has not been determined,” she told me as I remarked on the changes she has seen.

Humans, the most recently arrived inhabitants to Silverstone’s world, claim to have discovered fire — some claim to have invented it—but the planet itself was shaped by fire. There was a time when it was nought but a molten blob, as though a celestial artisan had swept up a flotsam of cosmic scraps into a pile, then blown them like molten glass into the slightly misshapen ball its eventual residents would call Earth.

About 66 million years ago, the last of the giant dinosaurs ended their 160-million-year reign as the giantist wanderers on the planet, leaving behind their bones and occasional footprints. Or so it is written. Silverstone the Younger welcomed them to her world and waved sadly when they left.

“It was lonely here for a while, until, some 200,000 years ago, a new creature arrived,” she remembered.

She watched from her mountain lair as the first of what became modern humans set their footprints on the constantly forming soft ground. Unlike the creatures preceding them, they were inquisitive — never satisfied with where they found home, always wondering what was over the next hill. About 44,000 years ago, they found their way into what had become the North American continent — though these First People did not know to call it that.

The planet continued to cool and a large portion became covered in ice, a condition lasting some 30,000 years. Officially, it ended about 12,700 years ago, leaving behind exposed rock and mountains.

The inquisitive creatures, who thought fire was most powerful, began to discover it was no match for water. Fire could make a mountain with a lot of huffing and fanfare, but a glacier of frozen water could quietly tear it down. Water — freezing, thawing, flowing and falling — continues to carve the land and humans, most of whom have paid closer attention to multiplication and velocity than to the changes their passage has made, are only just beginning to notice.

“And so it goes,” Silverstone yawned. “Your home will continue to change. The question is, which of us will be here to see it?”

She grew quiet, her nose poking almost silently from the hillside, among the trees and leaves, leaving me to continue my wander …

And to wonder how her story would continue.

 

4 Comments

  1. Beautiful! Thank you for that!

    • John Messeder, Jr.

      March 25, 2023 at 17:30

      You are welcome. Thanks for reading, and liking. Silverstone says Thank you, too.

  2. For a moment there, I thought I had stumbled onto a snippet of Tolkien!

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