Camping in the North Cascades, I sketched this picture looking into the forest from my campsite:
While sitting in my tent I could smell smoke from giant forest fires south of me. They never got close enough to threaten my area.
I saw many cool trees, ferns and moss and imagined interesting humanoid trolls living in enchanted nurse logs. They watched me as I hiked through the forest.
I thought the mountain landscape would be cooler than Seattle, but the heat followed me.
After I got back, I re-read the short story collection Outside, by Barry Lopez, which I found randomly at the library. In the forward he writes,
In the early 1950s, when people living in the Los Angeles Basin spoke of going away for the weekend, often east over the mountains to the Mojave Desert, they would say that they were going "to go outside."
I wonder if people would say that about the forest as they said it about the desert. The forest does not feel "outside" in the same way the desert does. The forest canopy is like a ceiling, I think we sense the presence of trees as kin, never quite getting the desolate "outside" expanses of the prairie and desert.
Grass and cacti are more alien as life forms than trees. At least for me. But familiar does not mean safe. I think all of nature holds a power that humans can never master. Nature continues to creep into our lives, even in big cities where we try to expunge rats, weeds and MRSA, to no avail.