Forest Bathing International Magazine, Issue 1 - Page 32

This was true at the time these dreams occurred. In my male Native American body, I experienced a dreamworld tour of this continent the way it use to be and the voice told me every time that the world my ancestors knew was gone. It was profound and sad. Those dreams led my decisions in many life choices thereafter. Perhaps without these dreams I would never have become a tracker. After that first dream, I committed to the impossible task of bringing back the primordial forests…somehow.

Though I remember that dream, it is not often at the forefront of my mind. It has been a quarter century since those dreams came after all. So why was it coming back so viscerally now? What did it have to do with bear?

I will probably never understand how the waking world and the dream world weave together nor do I fully understand how tracking puts me at the intersection of those two worlds. But that is my experience.

I do not know how to express the poignancy of what it was to track bear that day. Nor can I explain how matching his movements over the contours of his environment with my body unearthed a long ago dream. The day was so beautiful and the trail so alive. The details of the tracks and the sensory delights put me in bear’s body, the center of his world, and the center of the forest. It put me in the center of bear’s dream. From the center of bear’s dream I could see that the forest dreams too, and that bear, forest and I dream each other.

With my bear arms and my bear legs, I feel the water; I straddle and hug the ancient dead trees. I embrace the forest and its ancestors with my every step. The forest embraces me in return. I, bear, am cradled in the regenerating forest, nestling in the bones of the old trees. This is the source of nurturance. I, bear, am a human woman. I follow a tall man down my trail. I remember dreaming the old forests…before I gave my heart to this one. This is where love comes from. We are bear walking. We know how much I love the comfort of this place. We are human. We can see the forest as it was. This is where we, bear, dream. I am the ancient forest your descendants will know.

The upcoming book by A. Preston Taylor will

feature this story and other tales of tracking

the North American Black Bear. To preorder the book, contact: taylorapreston@gmail.com

For more information on forest walks and nature experiences with Caitlin Williams, contact: knowingwild@gmail.com