I didn’t hug the tree. It seemed a little needy. But I sat under an old tree for a while today, back up against the trunk, bare feet in the dirt, looking up at patches of sky between the leaves. There were a few ants crawling on my journal, and a very young bird who had not yet incorporated a fear of humans.
There is a forest on the northern tip of Manhattan (“hilly island”) that covers a couple hundred acres and ends in Muscota (“place in the reeds”) Marsh, the last natural salt marsh in Manhattan. Because the Hudson River (Mahicantuck: “the river that flows both ways”) flows both ways, the salt mixes with freshwater and the Muscota is an unusual combination of salt marsh and freshwater wetlands.
Between the forest and the marsh is a field, surrounded by trees that started growing before we were born and will continue after we are gone. A warm day rises from the pit of a pandemic and warring versions of reality in America. It feels good to walk across an open field, maskless, in Manhattan, seeing nothing but grass and trees and sky. That fresh air is the smell of life returning and it smells so good.