Walking on the trail I could hear them before I saw them.
They were always anxious to talk and play and even walk with me a while.
Very social but few people saw or heard them and they had little contact with the human world except to watch them go by.
Dogs were a little different as they have more acute senses and they would often bark and sniff when going by their home.
Sprites love the woods.
They love the trees and most of all they love this mossy knoll where the moss was like a pillow of softness.
Sitting there by the side of the trail they would talk and play and tease the dogs if one chanced to notice them.
Walking up the trail I could feel their excitement as I grew closer and hear their excited chatter.
Some would jump off the ledge landing on my shoulders and whisper in my ear.
Show me places that only they knew and through them was able to catch a glimpse of forest life beyond human knowing.
I never actually “saw” them but would see shadows and feel their presence.
When they hopped on my shoulder it was like someone lightly touching you with their fingers.
There was such harmony, light and laughter amongst these creatures of the forest that I often thought how heavy and solid humans had become.
So caught up in “stuff” and “what if’s” that we’ve forgotten how to dance with abandonment.
Over the years I always looked forward to treading that path to delight in the energy of the sprites.
And then one day… as I headed towards the mossy bank there were no greetings.
No sense that they were ever there and my heart grew heavy with grief.
Had I done something to offend them?
Had something or someone hurt them?
I called out.
I reached out with my mind and heard a faint reply.
As the voice came nearer I realized that it was only one voice.
Upon inquiring anxiously as to where everyone was he said he had been left behind to wait for me.
To let me know where they had gone.
Further, into the deep darkness of the woods they had found another home that was more remote and on a higher mossy cliff with water that trickled down the slope.
When I asked why they left he said that there were great changes happening here that they could no longer live with and so had moved on.
He didn’t know what changes but like a rabbit fleeing a forest fire they had smelled the smoke.
Sad to part, he stayed for a while and kept me company but I knew he as restless to join the others.
It had been a few weeks since I’d last seen them and they had left shortly after our last visit.
Asking if I would ever see them again, he didn’t know but said that I would always hear them if they sensed me.
He left and I turned around and came home.
Not wanting to travel any further along the trail.
About ten days later I headed up the path once more just in case someone was still there and saw what had made them move on.
Heavy-duty equipment had widened the trail and a pipeline was going in through the wilderness.
Replacing old water mains that have been in disuse for years.
But worst of all the mossy knoll that I knew so well was now gone.
Blasted into rubble.
Somehow they knew!
And moved on.
Leaving behind an echo.
A shadow of what once was.
I don’t travel that path any longer.
The newness of the trail has lost its wildness.
And once again I walk alone.
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