by Grant McLaughlin
The trails near the Rec. Center in Oxford MS never lack for wonder or sights of diverse life living in seemingly endless harmony. I find myself walking off the beaten path, looking at the trees and plant life that aren't native to my Texas home. Every step is another twig or dead leaf being crushed underneath a boot. Alerting rabbits and deer to my presence in their open home. I place my hands on the tree bark, soft yet jagged with many spots of moss and cracks that run like river beds up and down the tree trunk. The grass smells fresh but never once has it been touched by a blade. It is tall, and so old it grows yellowish brown as it hardens becoming like a wall or thicket for small animals to hide in. There is a bike path along the powerlines I like to walk. You come to a creek down in the valley that a man must have made because there is heavy machinery broken down and rusting from years of rain. The valley sounds like music. Everything sings of life, and death as the coyotes come down the high hills surrounding the small valley. The moon casts shadows, giving the trees a power to cool the sweat from my brow when the trails become hot and sticky. Sticky like the tree sap that ants and beetles drink to collect sugar for their microscopic empires that stretch the globe. You can almost taste the freedom in the air if you couldn't hear cars bustling down the highway less than a mile from the edge of the woods. Here there is peace though, like none other on earth. for no guns are fired here, and the only sound is that of feet planting on the ground, claws scratching at flesh, paws dashing across the forest floor, wings flapping against the wind. Grass growing, coyotes howling, birds chirping. Here there is peace. None other found here but the soul of man breathing steady and heartily. There is only peace.