There is a forgotten corner in a northern Idaho forest that lives inside me to this day. It’s quite an ordeal to get to this mystical place, in fact, I’ve never met anyone else who’s been there.
The minute you walk into those woods it feels like you're entering a magical forest. The area I’m writing about is on a big quiet forest floor. Massive, thick shaggy barked cedars, some of them 7-8 feet at the stump stand at what seem to be perfectly measured intervals, almost as if some ancient forest caretaker placed them in those spots carefully and purposefully. The scent of that place is the most intoxicating blend of cedar, fresh rain and rich soil I’ve ever encountered.
The branches of each tree spread out and touch each other like they are enjoying some unspoken communion. I have always wondered if after 500 years of slow growth, when they finally were finally able to reach out and feel one another, did that touch feel good to them?
The canopy of cedar boughs protect and keep the floor of the forest from most direct sunlight. On sunny days, greenish shafts of light filter down and illuminate spots of the deep red forest floor, which is the color of old bricks. Every now and again you catch the flash of an insect passing through those shafts of light, little golden comets on a hurry to get somewhere.
Footsteps are silent there. Eons of dying cedar boughs have insulated the floor so that each step is so quiet it’s as if it never occurred. Bright green ferns are scattered like perfect houseplants creating ground cover as you walk south toward a large shattered stone hillside. Huge blocks of white gray granite are piled at the base of that hillside. Dark emerald velvet moss grows on the top of these blocks and flat, pale, sea foam lichens grow down the face, determined to live, even on such an inhospitable surface.
A little stream winds down through those great stones. That stream is so clear and quiet that if you didn’t see current forming as it passed through narrow areas it would be easy to think it wasn’t there at all. The stones on the bottom of the stream are vibrant red, and black, with an occasional piece of white granite setting them all off like a field of gems. Here and there the stream has washed away the soil from the root systems of trees, exposing the most intricate and twisting network of orange knotted roots. If you stand really still and watch under those roots you’ll see motion. Tiny black trout wave their tails ever so gently in that minute current. I’ve taken a fly and caught those trout before. Held them in my hand, delicate shining little cutthroat trout, their mouths working, their black eyes looking but not seeing. It always amazed me that these dark little creatures with amber fins had such a beautiful bright red slash on the bottom of their gills, why? I loved putting them back into the water in the palm of my hand. For a second they would just lay there, as if they didn’t realize they were free. Then, in a quarter second they would slash across the stream back to their friends. What a story they had to tell.
I’m not sure what I believe about mythical creatures, but if ever a colony of fairies were discovered, I’m sure that little secret corner of the world is where they’d be found.