Grigna Meridionale, from Grigna Settentrionale. My place is behind of it...
  • Grigna Meridionale, from Grigna Settentrionale. My place is behind of it...

There is a place which is for me.

OK, let's be entirely sincere. I have no title of property on it, nor I know an owner physically exists.

But in a sense, it belongs to all of us. There is no path conducing to it - you have to walk a bit in the wood. It's there, I assure you!

I find this place so deeply and vibrantly "mine", I wonder we (I and this place) have something in common.

Look around you, and you'll see the firs and larches alternating graciously. No grass, however - trees stay close, as if desiring the right amount of companionship. I feel their scent as I walk, their needles creaking softly under my shoes.

And...

Sty, you haven't changed a bit!

(Sty, you have to know, is a stone. She loves telling stories, and very interesting indeed, but has the terrible defect to speak slooooowwly. This<\em> story is no exception but, you know, she began telling it to me four years ago, and is just on the first paragraph. Something unusual, as customary with her - something about an ancient eon, when here (here!) there was a sea, populated by wonderful strange creatures. Sty, when in the right mood, can be very vivid, and I bet she was there, observing attentively).

(Now she's saying I'm a bit villain, as I didn't introduce the "trees". In fact they all have names -names of trees, naturally- but, forgive me, they are too much! Of course any of them has some unique story, but sorry, sorry, I've very little time today: of the one of them who once encountered an emperor I'll say on another day).

Sty and the Trees are not the only persons there. But these other people of the wood are occasional visitors, more than full-fledged residents.

Like that hare, a bit absent-minded, whom I've seen fumbling among the roots on one almost-night no more than five meters from me. To be sincere, I stood on a large boulder and was the one downwind, so the hare had no real occasion to notice my presence. My fault. Something says me, however, this hare was quite ordinary, no less timid than so many of his brothers and sisters. Would I have presented myself just so, suddenly, I'm quite sure he would have gained an apoplectic strike instead of interacting with me. Not a nice way, I imagine, to know new people, don't you think?

Or, the deer. Lightly, slowly moving, again in the night, doing her best to avoid me. Not gentle, yet wise - after all I'm a predator (although, thanks circumstances, hungerless).

Or the child hedgehog I played with.

Or so, so many others.

There I love to be alone, in the way this is possible in so a crowded place. But, as you will come with light and limpid heart, I'll welcome you and introduce them all.

(It happens sometimes one enters this my space, lusting to know my friends without the due respect, or too noisily; I know you have occasionally experienced the same thing, and know how annoying it can be - but when this happens, then I slip somewhere else, and my friends stop chatting).

How large this space might be?

A geographer might say "Oh, it is XX kilometers by YY miles, and...". But I say, it's enough to me.

I'm wandering in it, with the geology hammer, tiny notebook and compass at belt (I imagine my colleagues suppose I'll finish the survey in time) (and OK, it's in part true: sometimes I take a measurement, draw a poor sad fossil pitiably deformed with its surrounding rock, acknowledge a fault, and the like all busy people does).

As I caress that rock outcrop (there aren't so many here, and that's a real pity), I try figuring out what the verb "to explore" really means to me.

Surely, nothing like filling some huge gap in the world map, as the real explorers do.

In a sense, I do much less. I'm not interested in impressing my footprint in somebody else's farmland claiming property of it in name of some king or queen, just because the farmer did never fill the explorer map him/herself.

No, no. This is not "my" exploring.

When I "explore", I love to pass in a place many times, from many paths. To imprint in my memory the general shape, and the position of all the people there. This is of course barely sufficient to just have a first contact. Then, it comes the time you expect stories from them. Because all "things" in the World are, in their own way, alive (it's so often us being deaf or, in my specific case, just not so intelligent).

Maybe, I'll never found an empire. This does impress me quite a little - as wonderful cities may be, I prefer the mountains, the woodlands. I go there as soon as I can, this is my true home.

But I feel have a great advantage: this way of exploring never ends, and you can practice on areas which on a first glance appear ridiculously small. Of course they are immensely wide, and spacious. Overall, I can say the fear of finding myself in a really, unacceptably overcrowded place is the very last of my problems.

I know, you too.

Let's then explore, know, and love. Would you join, my space is yours' too.

Mauri