Steve Meador is the author of Throwing Percy from the Cherry Tree, a poetry book that was an entrant for a National Book Award and the Pulitzer Prize in poetry. He is widely published in online and print journals. He has been a real estate broker since the early 1980s and currently lives and practices in the Tampa, FL, area.
Sunday, February 19, 2012
I have safely returned from a journey through urban dangers and, on this day, ventured into the sweetness of the spring forest. It was there, near the center point of the two hundred acres—only about fifty yards east of Fishhawk Creek—that I found what appeared to be a scepter, an item simple in form and adornment, which leads me to believe that it is owned by someone who rules a plain and common people or is worshipped by the same. I do not know who the owner could be, or how it came to be in this place, at its resting spot not far from the base of the fungus tree. I do not know if it holds any powers, but, personally, I am always leery of anything that lacks complexity, because such things are underrated by being ignored. However, simplicity is often a deception for things, living or not, and humans have come to admire the simple, it being so opposed to our way of living. It draws us close by lowering our defenses, unless we are cautious.
I call it a scepter because of its appearance and location. It was made of a single palm frond with the stem of the frond, maybe four to five feet in length, forming the staff or handle. The crest, or crown, was fashioned by the frond’s leaves being trimmed to within a few inches of where they attach to the stem. Around the crown there was a tangle of delicate vine, lightly wrapped and tied. Two sprigs of ripe beauty berries were tucked into the loose vine. Some may consider the workmanship crude, yet, to me, it carried a tone of legitimacy.
There were also oddities about the scepter’s placement and other events. The steps to discovery began when I noticed a large flutter of sulfur butterflies, brilliantly reflecting the stream of sun, in the bushes and scrub surrounding the point where I had stopped to take a drink of water. These butterflies are normally very nervous and flighty and are difficult for humans to get near. Yet, the kaleidoscope only took flight after I approached and was within touching distance of most; the air filled as though there was a tossing of golden coins. I followed the butterflies to a spot about thirty feet off the path. That is where I looked down and noticed the crown was resting within a triangle, formed by three golden-yellow mushrooms. Perhaps it was placed there to regenerate its powers, or, maybe, the fungus, in some manner, acted as protector. So, based on these facts, it does not seem that this item was merely dropped or misplaced. I only happened upon the spot while following one of the butterflies through the thicket. It was as though I was led to the artifact.
There was no intention of disturbing the scene. I circled it slowly, then bent down for closer examination, fighting the urge to run my fingers along the weathered smoothness and natural beauty of the find. However, curiosity won the struggle within and I gently lifted the scepter to examine its detail. Instantly the natural ornamentation disintegrated and fell to the ground, not a straight drop inside the triangle, but fragments of the vine garland and jewel-like berries dropped on each of the three growths of golden fungus at the triangle’s points, pulled to each as if magnetized. This was an unnatural act and startled me.
At that instant the stale and quiet of the forest was interrupted. A raucous flock of blackbirds dropped into a nearby longleaf pine. The birds became silent, as a breeze developed and rained leaves in great density. Within minutes the dusk of day quickened its descent. Throughout the area, within several yards of where I stood, there came a crunching and rustling among the dead leaves on the forest floor and scratching scuffing in the palmetto scrub. I saw nothing other than the waving and bobbing of plants and limbs through the downpour of oak leaves. Large drapes of Spanish moss also began falling in clumps.
I placed the scepter back in the place and position it was found, unsheathed my Buck knife, and hurried back to the path. There I encountered a drove of feral hogs, rooting and furrowing madly, standing their ground, which was not typical. I backed slowly to a medium-sized pine, ready to climb to safety. A large boar dashed toward me, sending me into action. I grabbed the lowest limb and pulled myself up and onto the next level. The snorting boar was stopped by a clash of thunder. It returned to the drove, which drifted into the dense scrub. The wind subsided and I came down from the tree, made my home bearing only minor scuffs and a tear in my shirt. Due to the intensity of the events I have only these few photos to share. I will decide whether I should return to the place and visit the item again.