Solitary sassafras stands sentinel by the open gate, feet firmly planted in the snow white sand,
as the filtered rays of morning incline through the pines to her east.
Her flaming leaves and those of her scattered and diminutive clan
bear witness from the forest floor to the restorative powers of the pinewoods fire,
and she gladly grants passage to the sympathetic wanderer,
keen to marvel at the fire's good work.
It is autumn in the land of the long leaf pine,
and wire grass,
chief torch bearer for April's scouring flames,
blooms expansively in the aftermath of spring's inferno.
The glorious plumes swaying beneath the pines as far as the eye can see,
pollinated by the summer breeze,
now bear the seeds of the forest's future,
vital ingredients in the continued recovery of this wonderland-on-the-mend.
Scattered about the not yet century old longleaf stand,
a few older souls play host to another ancient denizen of the southern pines,
and our own souls thrill to think of a time
when a new nesting cavity under excavation may be a thing far less rare,
though no less wonderful...
Along the sandy sun-drenched path,
near where falls the shadow
of gentian's final faded flower,
other grasses and herbs offer their downy seeds to the fickle breeze.
On this day, though,
and for this hour,
we only have eyes for Aristida's tawny plumes...
grateful for life,
and kindred spirits,
and this timeless moment,
one with the grass and the trees and the fire
and the seeds.