While Aki does her business near the trailhead notice board, I read the copy of Gerald Hopkins’ poem, “Spring and Fall, to a Young Child” that someone tacked to the board along side a bulletin about invasive species and a ziplock bag of found items. Why, I asked my little dog, would the poet tell a child already sad over the end of fall color that autumn defoliation is a reminder of our mortality. Weren’t there any child protection officers around in 1880 when Hopkins wrote the poem?
Nothing in the old growth forest distracted me from these thoughts, not even the red sorel plants that brightened the forest. I found a flock of kindred spirits on the beach—gulls waiting for the tide to recede. They hunkered together at the waterline while one of their brothers stood guard duty on an offshore rock. I could almost hear them muttering, “Hopkins, what a jerk.”