Yesterday lifted into today about five hours earlier than I might have chosen. Sleeping is obviously not my strongpoint. I should know this by now, accept the truth of it but I am a natural believer in a good ending, not because the aforesaid happens to me, but that I happen to it. If my attitude is positive, my diet good, my daily walks beneath the giant trees accomplished, mindfully, then I will sleep and sometimes I do, but on those ‘do’ days I wake in astonishment and rarely expect a replay. Perhaps that’s my mistake.
I dress, pull on my attitude, go through my decisions for the day, squirt perfume, turn to the dark window and look out. I know it is fully dark here by comparison. No streetlights, no headlights, no light pollution at all. I keep looking. There is no such thing as full dark. My eyes adjust. T’is a survival thingy. I can see a bit more, a bit star, a bit moonslice tipping out from behind a cloud for a moment, just a moment. Ah, I say. I remember a time, no, times, walking home from a ceilidh in the village into the pitch black of night in all the wrong kit. I remember the first frill of fear, the fingers of it touching me, shivering me. I remember stopping still on the Tapselteerie track. A mile of this to go, more and a lot of winding and pothole avoiding. Stop. Look. Listen. The trees know where you are. Find them and listen. Alone out there and with the fear sliding off my back, I felt myself come back to me. Bringing all senses into an intelligent one, we moved forward in a new light. I could hear the wind coming from the west, or the east or the south or the north just by the lick of it against my skin and the trees bent accordingly. It thinked me, this bending with a powerful element. I chuckled as I move forward. Of course they, the trees, must learn to move with the wind changes, with whatever each one brings. Otherwise, well, think firewood. Could I, this small and only ‘I’ learn from the trees? Could I be as majestic and strong as they are in spite of wind changes?
I did and I still do. This day after the clouds dumped about 27 rivers on our heads, the sky cleared a bit and that lovely blue appeared, swirled with clouds. Actually, I can feel a bit sorry for clouds. They are at the mercy of all four winds, all four temperamental powers, shredded, clumped together, fluffed up until they get complacent and then pulled apart like rotten cotton and thrown into space. So, the blue came and I walked through the Tapselteerie woods, every single step a memory and yet each step completely new. I stop to watch the beech trees, all sung out and bare, silver trunked and light rooted. Hold tight, I say as I move beneath 100 year old limbs like gifting arms. I hear the squeak of birch branches, the tic tic of brush Hazel, the groan of the giant pines and the song of their needles. Looking up is fine but don’t step forward when you are doing the looking up thing. There are potholes and puddles and things that bring you right back down to earth just when you thought you were Alice or Dorothy.
I think of land ownership. Not that I believe in it. We are just tenants for a while and thus responsible for the land we think we own. I know now that trees care for each other, that a beech tree roots light, that pines go deep, as do oaks, but, as they do their roots find weakness in another species, say a birch or an alder and that root will lift like a strong finger until it holds the weakness, securing it to the ground. Now that is friendship.
And the trees are friends to me.