Topic: "Socrates and Friends"(5)
Fiona injured a leg several years ago. Veterinarians at the time told Frodo and Sam that surgery, with a six-month rehabilitation, would be recommended. Mick, the Wonder Dog, has three or four fatty masses on his chest and abdominal areas, but absent any other problems, surgery has not been required. Frodo's canine companions are both now in their twelfth year, and Frodo would be less than honest to say he knows not that time grows more precious, and adventures more memorable. Fiona often limps noticeably on their walks, so Frodo permits unplanned halts to sniff a weed which is diplomatically placed where a brief respite becomes the prerogative of her ladyship. Mick, the Wonder Dog, often appears confused, or winded, when a long stretch up hill requires that he simply stop and look at Frodo, questioning the necessity of further progress in that specific direction.
In the deep woods below Lake Lovey, the deciduous hardwoods suddenly give way to the darkness surrounding the creeks that flow endlessly across path and trail. Hemlocks have grown in these "hollers" ever since the last episodic clear-cutting in the earliest days of the century past. These evergreens become massive in girth, as opposed to their spindly pine cousins, and the forest bed feels no exposure to the sun regardless of the season or the hour. It is a place where silence is rarely broken, even by birds.
Fiona sees the creeks herein as private property, and a recognition of the reality of the existence of a fountain which restores youth. In "Fiona Creek," the pains are erased and the necessity of a sprint through spray until the tongue hangs so long that it presents a peril to a wayward paw-step. Once clear of the creek, Fiona sprints uphill, hither and yon, stopping only to look back at her brother and Frodo, who marvel at her rebirth. Her relatively small size allows her to scamper under and around nearly every obstacle, and given the storms that befell the area over the past months, fallen trees are everywhere.
Many of the fallen trees are hemlocks. Frodo has been observing the area for many months, given the threats of nature spreading among that population in the Southern Appalachians. The fall of so many of these deep wooded giants has opened the forest floor to the sunlight, absent for a century or so, and offering another changing environment for Frodo's analysis and Fiona's amusement.
Mick, the Wonder Dog, is too big to crawl under a fallen tree-trunk, and an obstructed or complicated detour gives him undue consternation. Frodo often stops and lifts his companion, absent the glare of Fiona, so that he may proceed in his own dignified exploration of the flattened trail that glides away beneath his canter.
The sunlight that enters this place of darkness does not pass unnoticed by any of the triumvirate. Fiona saunters into the sunlight, and gazes toward heaven, as if a puppy angel waves a tail in her direction. Mick, the Wonder Dog, senses aromas new to the area, and wanders fearlessly in nasal pursuit of something truly wonderful, or positively gross.
Frodo thinks of Socrates. Sitting upon a dry embankment above a creek, he observes his comrades at play, and he thinks of the poison that befell one of the greatest of minds. That which is found here has seemingly always been here, although, not unlike the tide, it has ebbs and flows which change in measurements of time far beyond that of an hour or a season.
Perhaps Fiona is correct; there is a fountain of youth in these dark woods. At least on this day it was so.
Three friends emerged from the darkness, and limped toward home.