Friday, June 13, 2008

The White Hart and the Mother Beech - Highgate Wood

Monday June 9, 2008:

The sun had been shining now for at least three days. It was an auspicious day to go clean my dead chosen sister’s bench and remember her on this the seventh anniversary of her death.

I skulked grumpily beside my mild and calm companion along the tarmac paths, for I was dancing with time panic and anxiety. To compound my gloom about regime change and its effects upon my professional life, my ancient Mum was in hospital after a bad fall. Nothing had been broken but she was bruised and sore. I had seen her the day before, her cheerfulness lighting up the whole room, her irrepressible optimism lifting my heart for those few hours. But now, back at home, I was anxious for her future and her health.

I needed trees, oh how I needed trees! I hoped my dead chosen sister would not mind sharing her day with me and my old Mum whilst I searched for the strength to go on.

We’d cleaned the bench and sat eating cherries and strawberries in our sister’s honour and memory. Now it was time to be with the trees.

Her beech, a great copper beech, tall and skirted in great wooden columns sat waiting for me.

”Help!” I prayed sinking down at her feet. I leaned my aching back against her wooden skirts and became still under the cool green wood's canopy.

Resting, I breathed with the tree, grew quiet, waiting, listening. The wood crunched and rustled, softly shifting as though making itself comfortable, preparatory for an afternoon snooze. Deep in the belly of the tree, I felt the rhythm of her sap moving with the beat of my heart. I breathed, we breathed, we were as one.

From the very roots of the tree, a deep voice growled,
“The trees and I will always be with you, no matter what happens in your life, remember that."

And I became conscious of approaching rustling nearby, a hoof falling softly on the loamy soil, a scrunching of twigs and leaves underfoot.

And there it was - a reflection in silver against the soft brown earth. Miniature white deer, head erect, shimmering in the gloom of the woods stood and watched, proud and graceful.

I blinked. It was gone. Only the leaves, the twigs and the moist rich earth lay still, alone and quiet.

I bowed to the place where it had stood. A blackbird called across the tree tops; in the distance, a dog barked. Scrabbling noises in the nearby undergrowth told me I was not alone. I stroked the skirts of the tree, whispering my thanks to her for her words of wisdom.

Wishing I could wander through the woods, walk under the watchful gaze of the trees, reluctantly, I rose and joined my companion waiting on our sister’s bench.

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