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UMBILICARIA

swamp side stories (the blowing up of Hemlock Hills.)

He had been driving the CAT non-stop for 11 hours with no lunch and his ears were ringing like school bells. He hadn’t eaten save for that big fatty bulletproof coffee in the morning that carried him right through to lunch, which he had forgotten in his truck parked down the muddy road he was carving into the bush. The Silent Shaman microdose capsules of Golden Teacher must really be doing the trick, he knew what he was part of, knew that it was destroying the forest, but it was his job, he had a family to care for. Payments to make. So what he thought was something floating above the treetops just over the ridge, for an instant, couldn’t be real. He froze, throttled the machine down to hear better, rubbed his eyes and wiped the condensation off the Cats windows, but there was of course nothing there. Funny he thought, i’ve never hallucinated with micro-doses of Psilocybin. In fact you just don’t at such low doses, but his heart rate had jumped, the hairs on the back of his neck stood up, he had stopped breathing – he had seen something that was for sure. In the crown of a giant old Hemlock that he knew they would cut down, for a split second he had seen the dark round shape of a Porcupine – not in the tree but above it – hovering and spinning slowly around, with a faint purplish haze around its dark shape. Out of this haze were tiny pinpricks of light, like firecrackers going off, little shooting stars firing outwards and down to the forest floor encircling the huge trunk of the Hemlock in a protective circle, the lights burned like candles on the ground all the way around the ancient trunk of Tsuga Canadensis before going out like candles in the wind . He shook his head, rubbed his eyes and squinted to see better above the misty forest and the one remaining Hemlock but there was nothing but the shrieking of a pair of Blue Jay’s and their bright flash of colour. That was weird he said to himself. His cell rang, oh no, it was the town inspector, he wanted to come up and hassle them about something, the width of the road, the depth of the ditch, the increase in trees that needed to be cut. All part of the new infrastructure plans coming down from high and part of the new green infrastructure plan for sustainable communities. How ridiculous he thought, the same laws on building new roads for suburbs and towns now being implemented on new country roads and driveways. Everything costing more and more and taking more resources. More gravel made from the boulders hauled out, more cordwood to sell with the increase in trees cut, more black earth screened and sold back to the homeowners as top dressing for the new sod that would be laid over the ancient mycelial web of  Laurentian soil. Above this scene of muddy desolation, in a brand new house clad in two tones of beige and brown Canaxel, a young boy watched everything from behind a curtain in his room. His parents new house was mostly empty, cavernous block like rooms and wall to wall windows where house flies and ladybugs buzzed out of reach whenever it got warm, even in winter. The house echoed as her mum walked up and down the polished concrete floors, her heels clicking in time with the tapping of her fingers on a smartphone. The little boy had seen something as well, but would tell nobody. For the wild creature hiding behind some boulders, just over the ridge from the Hemlock, had made eye contact with the little boy, the wild girl in the forest smiled at the little boy and made a whispering motion to her lips that the little boy understood as ‘shhh, this is our secret’. The wild girl backtracked and went down on all fours and rolled backwards like a monkey before standing up and melting into the screen of trees. On each shoulder, just before disappearing, the little girl could see  Blue Jays, one on each shoulder, that were leaning into the wild girls ears, clearly talking to her in some language, Umbilicaria, Umbilicaria, we need you, the meeting is almost over….

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