My ears can’t pick out the sound right away. Too filled up with the wind playing through the leaves and bending the bamboo trees, and foreign to the soundscape of this trail. It’s been so empty of people, I’d not expected a human sound, those staccato patterns we make against the smoothness of nature. The sound sifts through, a spade shoveling beach sand. The picture plays out before the image of the unfamiliar forest, a much more known scene. The Atlantic waves rolling toward the shore, smacking the sand and spreading wide across the wet sand. Plastic bucket in hand, I am digging. The sun hot on my back.
The sun reaches down strong here, too. I wipe the sweat from behind my neck with a handkerchief and continue down the trail, softer now. Trying to blend back into the cacophony of the forest, trying to stay invisible. Around the trail the trees thin to bushes, and open onto a high embankment. Down below an old man bends over the earth, loosening the dirt of his field with some kind of large trowel. The instrument falls in a regular pattern. The clock ticking off seconds, as if he’s always been there in that position tending this empty field in the middle-of-nowhere. Back curved to bell-shape from the never-ending demand of his toil. What will he plant? The foreign root plants, I’ve seen in shopping centers, or more familiar produce. He continues like a hypnotizing metronome never seeming to tire, oblivious to his observer no more than four meters away.