The Crum is much emptier now than when we first got to know it. When I walk through the woods now, in freezing temperatures, everything is still. The only motion comes from the last few falling leaves and the bitter snore of winter wind.
Our first trip was full of life: bugs buzzing around plants I had not known were so important to their survival, a garden snake, children playing in the polluted water, tear thumb grabbing hungrily onto any article of clothing that got close.
I did a written journal entry that I never managed to scan and post on here, and, now that its appropriateness is long past, I’ll just post this little bit of it:
I took this down as the leaves had just started to fall. Like little sprinkles before a big rain shower.
The cicadas were still feverously calling then. I remember listening to them slowly get out of sync with each other, and then return in harmony. It felt like the work of an experimental musician, not a swarm of insects.
As students here, I feel like we get to see more of the Crum as a lifeless array of trees than as a living forest. The swarms of bugs and the greenery all vanish come autumn, and don’t return until spring. That range covers most of the time we are stuck here. Perhaps that was the reason the Crum seemed to unusually alive to me in the first few weeks of the semester. We’re mostly here while it sleeps.
Prompt Stuff: The idea of setting a fantasy novel in some version of the Crum is pretty interesting to me, so here’s an idea:
I think any story built on the Crum’s geography would necessarily have to start from the side of it our campus sits on. I can picture a reluctant hero, a member of his tribe/clan/society chosen by fate to journey across the creek into the distant and strange land beyond. I can see him standing atop alligator rock, looking at the yellow-leaf-covered ground on the other bank. First, though, he’ll have to carry himself down the 100ft cliff face (well, this obviously needs to be on a larger scale or else crossing the thing wouldn’t be a big deal).
I could keep going, but I’ll keep my ideas tucked away until I get to writing that fantasy epic. Seriously, though, the other side of the Crum is caked in yellow (birch?) leaves, and it makes for a very beautiful, ethereal sight. (See Rebecca’s photo in an earlier*)
*quick edit: It looks like they’re probably maple leaves. In my defense the birches here turn the same hue.