Into the Woods
At first she walked without thought, mind caught up in languageless reverie, body exquisitely attuned to every sound, scent, touch of living plant against her skin. Feet and arms bare to ground and air, though toughened by years of work and exposure, Caela moved into this landscape bare of expectation.
Scurrying, hiding creatures, peering out curiously slowly came to understand that she could be safely ignored. Walking into a rhythm in tune to the forest sounds, she could feel the music. She could feel completely alive, a creature in this natural world without guide, constraint, responsibility or companionship of human kind. Not thought, instantaneous realization of another level of being outside of society, inside the ecology of the forest. There is a restfulness to shedding roles. There is an energy that comes from rhythmic movement, a relaxation from moving in tune to the natural music of the moment. Habituated ways of sensing, of perceiving, of thinking can silently fall away. Without preformed valuations, what is speaks for itself.
A few smaller Earth mammals, originally brought as embryos on the ship, then propagated on farms, had escaped, gone wild, mutated to better fit in to their new world. Earth food stock in seed and embryo form had been sent on the ship in case Earthmen might find the local lifeforms inedible or lacking in needed nutrients. There had been hydroponic gardening on the ship for fresh vegetables, and, perhaps, to keep food growing skills fresh as well. Farming in Eden’s soil had presented no problem for the plants growing from Earth seed or the people and Earth animals eating them. It was even found that grazing Earth animals could find sufficient nutrition in the local flora. Still, suspicious humans preferred their own food stock to foraging.
Caela would need to eat in the forest. She must learn where useful, nonpoisonous to her body, sustenance could be obtained. She needed to learn to speak with the forest, learn its language. This seemed to her, on a level beyond conscious thought, the most obvious next link in the chain from here to there. She remembered Singer’s love of the forest, the music he found and co-created there. After all, it was the same forest, as far as the forest was concerned, a bit further north. She could find Singer’s presence within her, reassuring, loving, telling her to love this forest, his friend. She could also feel chilly ghostly energies, the pain, the fear, the intense emotion of her people’s journey that this forest had never assimilated into its own abiding wisdom. She could feel, sense, become a conduit, student, and awed participant with all of these energies ready to interweave into something she could accept and carry. But not yet; this journey is only beginning.