Sunday, March 27, 2011

19 Surrender to the horizontal
sunday March 27, 2011:


I’ve abandoned the fire quest or so it feels. Life in the form of my own ill health and that of a close friend’s steps in front of plans to work with forge fire. I dance with disappointment and failure, overcome with inertia, unable to do anything about the situation.
. So caged by winter, illness and injury, I champ at the bit to be free and roaming amongst the trees again. Blossom floats onto the pavement like pink snow. The air is softly perfumed. Everywhere buds are beginning to strain at their confining outer layers. Spring really is bursting out. .
This last three months, my mind has been occupied by the ebbing life flow of a friend with terminal cancer. These last weeks, when the sun has struggled through the clouds and the days have begun to glitter hopefully, she has been mortally ill. On a morning of dull low clouds, she lets go her hold on life.
Her estranged relative stands not two feet away from me and focuses her cold contempt upon the dead friend’s same sex partner. Shocked into stun silence, I feel something icy entering me.
March is a particularly busy time in my working life. I’ve no time to stop and check what it is I’m feeling. I have to put my head down and work.
I shiver, and then I’m intolerably and grumpily hot! I cry as easily as breathing especially when crossed by anything. I snarl at those who don’t deserve to be savaged in true cat kicking style
“I need trees”, I wail, like a small abandoned child. My plea is heard.
I’m overdressed, but I know the woods will be cool, especially when I’m sitting under the trees. The sun is warm on my face. My companion walks with me along the path between the trees. In the distance, a blackbird calls. Overhead a common woodpecker “boings” like an illicitly twanged ruler in a maths class.
A bunch of young people are clambering cheerfully in and out of the trees. Bouncy dogs hurtle through the holly bushes oblivious of their prickliness. My companion comments upon the unknown little white flowers lining the path, but neither of us can remember what they’re called.
The dank winter dampness is warmed with the slanting rays of the sun and rises as a sweeter perfume. I breathe in the smell of the trees and feel my heart beat slow down and my blood pressure settle.
In proper “how to greet a tree” style, I circle a number of likely trees, bowing to each as I return to the point I started from. I choose an oak tree, solidly mossy and free from importuning holly clustering about its knees.
I abandon myself to the horizontal. The feeling of relief is overwhelming. Lying on my back, my limbs flung out anyhow, I surrender to gravity.
The earth holds me still. I breathe deeply and slowly and sink down into its competence until I don’t know where I end and it begins. I don’t care. There’s nothing to do. Nothing, there is nothing. It’s such a relief not to have to do anything, not to have to feel anything, to think about anything except what it feels like to be held like this.
Who or what is holding me? I don’t know and I don’t care. I just lie there.
Young voices call to each other in the distance. I don’t even bother to speculate on who they are or what they are doing or saying. An unidentifiable bird is chip-chip-chipping somewhere not far away. I hear a magpie’s contemptuous rattle. Who cares what or who is singing in the woods? I don’t.
Above my head, the woodpecker boings loudly. He sounds close. I tune in to his call, momentarily dissecting it’s components before the effort becomes too much and I give up.
Someone is softly snoring. They sound so peaceful.
Hurtling feet, excited panting, leaves rustle precipitously. At the last minute I brace myself as a rough tongue begins to efficiently lick my face. I shake my head but the affectionate one persists with a great deal of promiscuous hairy nuzzling. I push it away and it curls up beside me, half lying on an arm, just to make sure I’m not going to go anywhere. As if i could ... I’m stuck to the earth here, held by her magnetism.
Squawking voices shatter the peace. I snarl under my breath and then let the irritation go. It’s nothing to do with me, I’m lying here on the ground under this tree and that’s all there is about it! I rearrange my limbs more comfortably.
My hands gently stroke the velvety moss. The tree has sort of buttresses and they are totally covered by the moss. I must be lying under the north side of the tree, so that explains where the sun is then. I move my legs. My bum has gone to sleep. The air has turned imperceptibly cooler.
Lazily I ask my companion about the dog.
“What dog”, she says, “there was no dog.”
I can’t be bothered to think about what that means and inelegantly grunting; I roll over and lie on my stomach. But it’s no good. I’m definitely present and aware that the ground upon which I lie is really quite hard. The magnetic force field thingy seems to have been turned off too. Slowly and with much grumbling, I get up.
I mention the snoring. My companion says she never heard me snore.
Who was snoring then, I think, noticing that I feel really quite refreshed and awake. I sneak a feel at my watch and am momentarily surprised at how far the afternoon has advanced.
Circumnavigating the tree anti clockwise I bow low in thanks for the deep rest it has given me in the lea of its still shelter.

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