A place for thought.

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His scuffed leather boots rested on the highest, needle covered limb capable of holding the weight of a five foot seven average build man. Wind from the West pushed his blond hair away from blue eyes as he stared without blinking at the village of small mud walled huts in the clearing, surrounded by fir trees, far below him. He balance carefully on the springy branch and release his iron grip on the thin trunk next to his face. He adjusted his olive green jacket and pulled the brass zipper eliminating the gap at his neck. The cold caused his eyes to water and his nose to run but his hands returned to the security of the two inches of trunk without giving them thought. Below people moved from hut to hut. They walked on dirt paths in groups of two, or three, or six. A few men walked alone and hurried. He counted sixty-seven people outside of twelve huts, he had no way of counting how many were under the roofs, not many, the huts were small and used only for sleeping or for protection from storms. He watched until his legs ached and his hands felt numb but he learned nothing new. At dusk he began the long, slow, careful climb from branch to branch. As he left his perch the branches no longer bounced and the trunk increased from two inches, to three inches, to six inches until he could no longer reach completely around; by this time the branches were thick and solid and farther apart. He hung from one branch and hunted for the next with his boots, letting go of the branch caused his heart to quicken until he felt the next branch securely under his feet. The last twenty feet he crawled down the massive trunk using the widely space chunks of bark as hand holds and then jumped the last four feet into a cushion of brown needles. He looked from side to side to see if his return to ground had attracted attention, it had not. He walked toward the village without making another sound. Birds watched his passage without taking flight; a rabbit crossed his path without noticing the young man walking toward him. The forest thinned only slightly to allow for the place of mud huts and the man walked onto the main dirt road. The people he had seen from far above smiled and nodded greetings while he continued past hut after hut. He stopped in the warmth of a small fire built of the dry branches of fir trees. A pot held boiling stew made of roots and a rabbit like the rabbit he had seen on the path.
“I am hungry now,” he stated to the lone woman sitting near the fire.
“You’ll eat when it’s ready,” she said sternly but with a smile. “Go wash your face.” She said as she took a long wooden spoon and stirred the stew, making sure it was not sticking to the bottom of the black metal pot.