Monday, April 11, 2011

21 Willow Fever
Monday April 11, 2011:
I’m playing hooky. There has to be some advantages to my precarious freelance status. Taking the occasional afternoon off to wander around a London park on a sunny afternoon is one of them.
My companion and I walk across Ali Pali Park. Very soon we are beyond the range of people and traffic. From time to time, clumps of picnickers emerge from amongst the trees, it is the first sunny day of the Easter holidays which explains the relatively crowded state of the place. We ignore them and walk on.
I’m looking for a tree – a particular tree but I don’t know which.
My companion leads me from one favourite place to another, for she is a habitué of the park. We arrive in a grove of horse chestnuts to find them almost all diseased and dead or dying. Those still alive have great seeping wounds on their sides. It is a sad place. Reluctantly we leave.
We cross water, admire willows in a boggy place and then cross more water. A great three trunked willow sits hard by the sluggish stream. I walk round it and know that I have found the tree I want to work with.
I love climbing trees. Unfortunately my increasing stiffness and ebbing courage for climbing militates against me often getting up into a tree. This one offers a helpful trunk and, with a certain amount of slightly ungainly huffing and puffing, I sit myself down in the fork between two trunks.
*I need to turn grief into remembrance and creativity,” I say to my companion. Then I remember the willow song I wrote in the spring one year after a difficult winter.
“Weep willow weep, then I’ll no longer need to
Grieve willow weep, and I’ll let go of shame.
Weep willow weep, and I’ll let go of fear and
Guilt willow weep willow weep, hear my prayer.
I breathe with the spirit of the tree. I am dancing. The tree is dancing. Androgynous yet stiffly stately, it bows and steps with me and then scoops me upend rocks me in its great rough branches. The world swirls round and i hear it ramblingly creaking and rustling. Remembering other singing trees, I tune in and follow the sounds. From deep within the tree, I catch the strains of my own song. The tree is singing my song!
I’m so happy! I begin to sing along and for a time, we sway and sing together in a rocking contented sort of way. Thoughts bounce in and out of the song. I mull over turning grief into remembrance and into creativity. I think also of the promises I have not kept to myself. It’s been so hard to get out of bed in the morning for months now. If I could get out of bed and start my day purposefully, I could do so much more. I could then keep my promises to myself.
The tree has stopped singing. It grows still. I listen to its quietness. My mind whirls between grief, rememberence,creativity and goals and promises. I think about what stops me getting up in the morning. There is something about not having nice things to look forward to. I wonder how I CAN CHANGE THAT.
There’s a certain amount of rustling going on around the foot of the tree in which i am sitting. My companion who has got cold, is gathering up bits of willow. She proffers the bunch she has collected for me. I wave it about, listening to the swishing. I am sure that in amongst the rustling, I can hear the tree singing.
With a certain amount of trepidation, I extricate myself from the tree and with hand on heart bow low in thanks. We walk across the park. The sun, which has been hiding for the last hour, peaks out from behind a stand of trees as we cross to the bus stop.
Heavy soft drops smack my cheek. It rains but yet the sun shines. I get on the bus and go home. Just as i reach my gate, the heavens open. Hurrying now, I unlock my front door and rush out into the back garden. I skip about it singing the willow song, raising my face to the sky and allowing the heavy raindrops to wash my cheeks. Maybe I’ll try getting out of bed earlier tomorrow, I think to myself as I prance round the garden.

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