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Sonatas IX

The Forest's Gifts: Walk With Me

Words by Khaetidawne and Brendan Quirk

Andante Affabile

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Sonatas IX-1 (Andante Affabile) Sonatas IX-2 (Andante Affabile)
The Path leads in, inviting me to find the wonders Seekers see;
I’m not alone upon my way, I lead my love along the trails today.
Sunlight beckons at the first step on the forest floor;
“The doorstep to our Path!”, my love cries, “Who could ask for more?”

I have to agree, my first walk of the year,
I remember each trail hike and I’m glad she is here;
I recall each beginning as I started along
With family and friends; now my love sings a song.
Walking into the forest - along the rock cliff
She admires the beauty, finds a good place to sit;
To strum the small harp she brought in her pack
“I’m calling the Forest Fae! Do you think they’ll come back?”

She sings, playing arias, with a soft smile,
Then packs up her harp again after a while.
“The steps are inviting. Which way do we go?”
“I’ll follow you”, she says, “This is your trail, I know.”

I tell her, “Have care, don’t run into the rock!”
“Turn left sharply going downhill, we’ll have work coming back.”
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Sonatas IX-3 (Andante Affabile) Sonatas IX-4 (Andante Affabile)
“Such Puddles of Sunshine! Just look and see!”
She notices everything with me -
“A pity we couldn’t bring our cats.
They love bathing in puddles of sun like that.”

She speaks with newfound energy,
I thought she’d skip till we came to this tree.
“It’s a stand of trees, really, Just look at the sun!”
I laugh at her playing; “And what has the Sun done?”,

Imperiously she demands, pouting in jest,
“Made a tree grow out of the light there, I guess.”
Her smile’s my reward for seeing things her way -
Holding hands through the sun puddles we move on through the day.
It’s nice she sees things as I do;
The lines, the light, the textures too;
Before the world has poisoned us with what we’re allowed to see
What we may say, what we may do; what we’re supposed to be –

But Seekers know that they can see the smooth silk branches in the sun
Of the past-blooming, but still beautiful, wood of the Rhododendron.
I almost want to caress the wood - so smooth - see how it shines?
Some years I’ve made it here to see the glorious flowering time.
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Sonatas IX-5 (Andante Affabile) Sonatas IX-6 (Andante Affabile)
We take a curve along the path, as though we’ve turned a page
The sunlight changes with each bend and we have found a ‘Faerie Stage’.
At least that’s what my Love tells me, and I’m inclined now to agree;
“The Sun, a flooding spotlight shines, down from above, you see!”

“Just look! How branches, twigs, light up, like bridal veils of lace upon that tree!”
I have to tell her not to wander from the trail to inspect this lovely sight
“Could be a snare or an illusion, but - lose your way you might.”
“You’re right, of course.”, she sighs and smiles, “There’s more for us to see.”
Laughing merrily she goes beside me along the trail
“This rock could be a guard, or a beached turtle, or whale”,
I tell her as we come to it, I’ve caught her whimsy now for sure;
“Or perhaps a place where knights and ladies rest?”, she teases me for more.

We sit and rest awhile and talk where many visitors often do,
We’re thankful we’re the only ones today and no others are coming through.
I tell her that this rock is quite a memorable sight to see
For all who return to the woods, this path, that they know just where they be.
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Sonatas IX-7 (Andante Affabile)  
Well rested we rose to continue along this well favored trail of mine
I wanted her to feel what I’ve felt, all the joys and the treasures I’d find
As I’d walked these paths for so many years, with family, friends or alone
I’ve walked as a companion, guide, but as a Seeker, these trails are my home.

Magnolia blossoms shyly peek - Seekers notice, and hear what they say.
I follow where the Sun and Forest lead – Sun puddles light the way.
To be a Seeker is to see and hear ‘The Forest’s Quiet Call’
To learn the language of the land, air, trees, majestic waterfall.

Allegro Cantabile

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Sonatas IX-8 (Allegro Cantabile) Sonatas IX-9 (Allegro Cantabile)
Led by the sunbeam’s shining light - we climb - the bright Sun guides our way
These falls bring more than thrills, delight, and beauty to our day.
To Eagle Falls - we scale the heights - this is the far point of our hike,
This ‘Star of Trails’ in its own right - where rainbows dance and beams alight -

As though from the Sun’s high mystic power;
Climb behind the falls, enjoy a cool mist shower;
Capture some few moments together, reflecting alone, as two can be
Then it’s time to move on, there’s so much more to see.
The Sunbeams urge us onward go, as ‘Nature’s Flashlight’ spots the show -
To shine upon the sights it knows - The place where rivers overflow!
The beauty of the forest floor! A moss covered rock that seems to glow!
A Seeker always seems to find the places all the little creatures know.

“This moss could be a carpet for the tiny Forest Fae,”
“I wonder if we’ll see a few as we walk this trail today?”
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Sonatas IX-10 (Allegro Cantabile) Sonatas IX-11 (Allegro Cantabile)
Farther onward we go, forward, into the light
I with my love, We look upward to the right
We see a fall of rocks, to where the sunbeams shine so bright
The Rhododendron stands guardian to this most glorious site.

A place lovely and tempting to climb up and have a sit -
I hold back my love, “Don’t put your ankles at risk!”
My love goes ahead of me a few paces and laughs,
“See the sun puddles marking the side of the path?”
My Love points them out at the base of the tree we must pass,
“The Sun and the Trails are leading us forward and aft.”
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Sonatas IX-12 (Allegro Cantabile)  
“This small sapling is spotlighted”, I tell my love a story;
“The Sunlight is showcasing it - Is it marked for glory?”
“Will it be big and mighty? Will drama unfold ‘neath its boughs?”
“Fed lovingly by the leaf mould growing at its base now?”

My love smiles at my story, to twirl in the sun,
Then sits on a stone with her harp just for fun -
To play me a tune and to sing me a song
Such whimsy is luxury and I sing along.

Presto Appassionato

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Sonatas IX-13 (Presto Appassionato) Sonatas IX-14 (Presto Appassionato)
Down here at the riverside, such a cool greyish blue
We stand by and watch river water rush through.
The water ripples and splashes, overhead the birds flock
We notice the whitecaps as the water dances fast over rocks.

The day has grown warmer and it’s time for a drink.
Intricate textures of rocks and white water are fascinating, I think.
I tell my Love that, “The River flows forward toward its destiny,
These rocks, once part of the Falls, fell millennia past - you see...”

She smiles, drinking deeply; she listens, though she must know,
“The Falls are well upstream from here”; I point the way we must go.
As we walk upstream, the path rises, so do I and my love,
As we go higher we start to get a view from above.
The boulders in the river are all former parts of the Falls
That hefty slab would have been quite a sight to see tumble and sprawl.

The feelings we have when we view the Falls and such natural sights
From woodlands, from forests, riversides, and from heights
Untouched and unfettered by modern things blocking our minds,
We feel a sense of belonging to the world, to all mankind.

A sense of responsibility for this natural arena widens and grows
As our view blossoms and changes, commands perspective, as all Seekers know.
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Sonatas IX-15 (Presto Appassionato) Sonatas IX-16 (Presto Appassionato)
I hold her hand as we climb higher, well above the first river view,
We can survey the whole stage now; the river, the mountains too.
The hawks above the river look upon the same panorama that we do;
Perhaps we share some of the same spirit, the essential life all through.

The clouds that puff above in the skies, that in the river play
With shadow, dance this afternoon, and make rain another day.
How glorious that we are gifted with this place, this setting,
This opportunity to feel one with this river, never forgetting!
Peering down again we catch a distant fisherman alone
Working to mine the pool below the Falls and carry a trophy home.
“He’s hoping to bring to the fireside a feast for his family for dinner!”
My Love, puts in her thoughts, and then to the sandbar looks for a glimmer

Of swimmers, or sunbathers, children with pails looking for shells today,
But - alas - the beach remains empty and bare, the swimmers gone away.
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Sonatas IX-17 (Presto Appassionato) Sonatas IX-18 (Presto Appassionato)
We climb to the top of the ridge - find a place and peer through
The hawks fly above us; we try to see things as they do.
I tell my love to look “Out there! There is Cumberland Falls itself!”
She smiles at the view, sighing, “I’d never have made it up here by myself.”

“Of course you would have, with maps, if you wanted to –” I said,
“Maybe so,” she answered, “but by the Sun we were led.
We were touched by the Sunshine - it did guide us today.”
I held her hand - I had shown her the true Seekers way.

“Do you see the distant people, Love? Over there - on the left?
They’ll never have the view we have without serious hiking and treacherous steps.”
I decide we can skip the top of the falls - “Not much more to see, down we’ll go,
I’ll carry your harp for a while if you like, as we descend to the platform below.”
It’s time to get closer - more personal - she and I - with the rushing water we hear,
To enfold our spirit with the magnificence of the tumultuous curtain so near.

“Is that someone else coming down the stairs there from behind?”
I’m surprised; hikers in long dresses rarely make this climb.
“Quick, lets reach the platform from which to view
so that our gaze is unencumbered and true!”

“Hold to the wall”, I whisper, we smile as the hiker does pass,
As we congratulate ourselves for achieving our task.
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Sonatas IX-19 (Presto Appassionato)  
We at last, come to the Falls, on its own terms - see the mist rising up like a prize;
Kissed by the Sun with such splendor, sun rays light the water like diamonds to our eyes.
The mist wets our skin, we feel every bubble, every ripple, of the water that plays
for us; molding our being, the joy so intense we could stand here all day.

“There are no words, and no songs for this feeling, nothing matches what nature can say”
I sing out to my love watching the water as the wind blows her hair in the spray.

Adagio Soave

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Sonatas IX-20 (Adagio Soave) Sonatas IX-21 (Adagio Soave)
While exploring along the Falls’ realm, we see more things to mark our way,
I want to show her everything I’ve found walking these trails all my days.
“This burl on this tree has been growing for decades; it’s enormous you see!
It always marks the year for us. For Trailwalkers, for Seekers, for Family, for Me.”

She says, “That tree burl ought to have a name! The Tree lives, It thrives!”
I say back, “Shall we name it Milton Burl? Or even better, Burl Lives?”
Getting my joke, she laughs as we go,
Singing Molly Malone, ‘Alive Alive Oh!’
Lingering down here by the Falls, we drift below the cliffs we once descended at the start,
Passing charming views, now gilded by light, where my Love first sang and played her harp.
Where puddles of sunshine greeted us at the start of the day
Softer colors of sunset caress her hair through the forest trees as we go on our way.

The Rock Face found here I’ve met so many times,
My Seeker’s heart has heard him beckon on numerous climbs.
This day I think I hear him trying to tell us something while we’re here alone
Nothing sad or cautioning, just - "Don’t you think you should start home?"
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Sonatas IX-22 (Adagio Soave) Sonatas IX-23 (Adagio Soave)
Is the Forest throwing obstacles into our path as we go on our way?
“No. The Rocks call to us, They say rest here awhile, sit and stay!”
I enjoy the lattice work and etchings upon this stone block ere we go
While the Sun edges downward - putting on such a show.

I know we can’t stay long, no time for harp songs,
Though my Love sings a short solo and the birds sing along.
As the twilight comes it’s dark under the boughs
Nature regretfully says “Tour’s over now.”
The Rock Face smiles as its head it bows
We mount the ridge; we’ll return we vow.

Time to climb upward and out, back toward our vacation home,
The Rock Face looks on as we head to our cabin of wood and stone;
Light grows dimmer, but still sunset glimmers just over the hill,
Food, drink, music and companionship, our spirits to refill.
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Sonatas IX-24 (Adagio Soave)  
The final steps out, the Forest - dim now,
Outside the Forest, evening lingers; again we vow
Tomorrow we’ll journey the path once more to renew
Every sight that we cherished, every treasure we viewed!

Every puddle of sunlight that we found as we wandered
Every moment we spent today was surely not squandered,
For the scenes the Sun spotlighted, trails it led us on,
Were glorious to witness; Joys to look upon!

Didn’t we feel the glory? Wasn’t our joy glad and good?
We’ll return - as always, at home, in the Woods...

Copyright © 2023 Brendan J. Quirk