Sunday, March 21, 2010

39 Tall Trees – Queen’s Wood, Highgate

Saturday march 20, 2010:

A light drizzle patters softly upon my face. I duck under a low branch and enter the circle. All around tall oak trees stand, bent bear arms reaching out. Beside them, the squatter darker prickly holly frowns as though in concentration. Above in the latticed canopy, birds sing out to each other. In the spaces between the trees, our voices echo as the winter wood tosses sound around.

The earth beneath my feet is soft with rain. Leaf mould and twigs texture its surface. I scoop them up, feeling the gritty mud cake my fingers.

A tall tree calls me, a straight oak standing by itself on the edge of a circle of oaks. I walk round it, saying my own “hello”, bowing low in greeting and reverence.

I lean against it, feeling its rough bark chaffing at my cheek. I lay my hand flat on its trunk and breathe in the moist green smell of the wood. I have nothing to do but to be. I sigh, feeling the pent up caged feeling of a long winter shift and think about leaving.

All is still. In the distance, children’s voices call wordlessly to each other. My ears pick up a movement between the trees. A presence treads quietly over the soft leafy earth, their footfall no more than the pat of a leaf falling. I wait.

“Where the f*** have you been?” a growling voice rasps. I nuzzle the tree in apology and surrender my mind to whatever has spoken, waiting for more. But nothing comes.

I am not disappointed. I wait and *am*.Here in the damp wood, I lean against a tall tree, my cheek laid gently against the rough bark. The tree allows me and I am grateful.

The words of a song, comes swaying into my mind and I begin to sing quietly, as I stroke the tree.

“Lay your head against the bark of a tall tree.
Free your mind and find your heart so easily.
The leaves are breathing and the branches sway.
As you see them dancing you can hear them say.
Lay your head against the bark of a tall tree …”
A damp drum thumps prosaically into my reverie. The presence moves quietly back beneath the trees. I nod in its direction and let go of my tree and walk back to the circle to join a Counsel of all beings.

As I sit in circle, I touch my face to feel the bark’s texture, but my cheek is smooth and cool. Still I know that inside I can trace the feel of the tree. I sigh and am content.

I Assemble leaf and twigs upon card. With my fingers, I promise to come back to the trees. I give my offering back to the earth. I sing and dance with my companions, lifting my voice in loud and lusty song as we cautiously spiral dance our way around the stump strewn circle.

Beneath the trees, the gentle drizzle is hardly noticed. Their bare curving arms give less shelter than they would when fully dressed, but it is sufficient. We open our circle. The earth touches the equinox, that place of absolute balance. The next time I feel that point of rocking balance, it’ll be heralding the winter.


I think of the days stretching before me, growing longer and warmer. From this moment in time, I have no anxiety that the year is running away with itself, for it is still so young yet and we have the gently unfolding spring to enjoy.

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