Tales from Kilgour Forest

Part 2

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“You will need to walk through the forest twice a day, once to open the gates, once to close them. And clear the paths of major debris. I usually have to do a cleaning every three weeks, more in the fall. Other than that, your time is your own.”

 

The caretaker motioned to an old tire in the river. “I got a tractor to clear undergrowth faster. They didn’t like that at all.”

 

Daniel could not tell what the old tire had to do with the man’s story, unless the man ran his tractor into the river and left it for a decade. 

“No wire fences. The forest absolutely refuses.” The caretaker motioned at where a tree had almost entirely subsumed a rusted wire fence in its trunk. “The rich people around here wanted to wall off the whole property, make it more exclusive. It was a yearlong headache to try to convince them it wouldn’t work. Then it was another yearlong headache to come up with excuses they could understand about why it didn’t work.” 

 

The caretaker said this all with a conspiratorial tone, as if he and Daniel were a part of some vast hidden secret. 

“Oh,” was all Daniel could reply, for he was quite unsure what this secret was. 

 

“Are there many animals in the forest?”

 

“Deer, rabbits, hawks, foxes, sometimes bears. Sometimes others. You don’t bother them, they don’t bother you.”

They continued their walk. The sun shone through the trees and lit up the yellow leaves into a gold carpet. A family of deer stopped and dipped their heads in greeting. Leaves rustled as a pair of squirrels fought over their domains across the tree branches. 

 

This kind of scene left the impression that this work could be rather nice.  

“The previous caretaker,” The caretaker bobbed his head towards a tree stump which had a decidedly human face carved into its bark. 

 

“Did he carve his face into the tree?” 

 

The caretaker snorted, “No, he did not.” He did not continue on with an explanation.  

 

The path wound back to the outpost. With the tour done, the caretaker shook his hand, got in his car, and laughed heartily as he waved goodbye to Daniel.  

 

Daniel was left alone in the sudden silence. 

As he rode home that night the wind followed him closely. The trees seemed to yawn and stretch as he passed as if they wished to grab more handfuls of the sun. The streambed rise further on the shore, as if the water was curious whether it could further its domain along the shore. Each part of the forest sensed a new caretaker and knew the order of things was now in flux. New management meant the need to defend one’s current place of power in the ecosystem, and perhaps, a time to grasp hold of more. 

 

One tree shifted its roots abruptly. In doing so, its trunk split open to reveal an interloper that had slept in its confines for many a year.