Midsummer rises... and cool green light filters between the trees. It drifts in dappled layers to a forest floor of ancient memories of those that have gone before. Silence envelopes me, holding me in arms of tranquility. My footfalls make no sound as I wander over centuries of dreams and dances. I am mesmerized, cocooned within the heart of the wildwood. A breeze trembles through the highest leaves, lingers with a whisper of voices long forgotten. I am drawn deeper. I sense myself leaving one world and entering another. World reality becomes obscure, recedes and pan pipes sing a haunting song. A hundred eyes watch me. Shadows skip and light glimmers. Gossamer feet pitter and patter. Wings flutter. I have entered the unknown, long-forgotten realm.A silver birch shivers, her green tresses rustle, wary – resentful - of the human presence.
My feet carry me forward and I advance towards the trunk of a venerable oak. Its craggy armour of grey is decorated with treebeard and lichen, elemental partners in the battle and dance of life.
This is my journey. My midsummer rising.
I wrap my arms around Old Man Oak, draw myself to his timeless bulk. Deep within, his heart beats, old as the stars, slow and steady. I sense him watching me, feeling me. I know I am an interloper, know I have to earn respect. All I have to give is love... I let it flow in waves from me – some small pittance to make up for things done by others to all his kind in so many places both near and far. The love pulsates from me into the heart of the tree – and he radiates it back, his energy connecting with mine. I rest my cheek against his side - close my eyes to sense him better.
Grandfather Oak, I have come home.
His voice, thick with age, rumbles within him.
All place is home. We are…home.
Hard world your kind has created.
Humans advance without thought.
Forgive us, we are unthinking.
I know. But we endure…always endure. Ancient wisdom knows.
A blackbird flutters and scuffles in the undergrowth. My eyes spring open.
Glossy creature, it watches me, head cocked to one side, bright eyes of obsidian glinting. It warbles - a syrupy note. It hops towards me, pauses, calls out, a clear, crystalline voice.
And then I sense him. He has been watching…peering through the trunks of his beloved trees. Edging ever closer, curious, unafraid…master of all he surveys.
I know you’re there. I am awed, my inner voice trembles.
He chuckles, remains unrevealed. But I feel his eyes upon me, appraising me.
Grandfather Oak speaks to him but I cannot catch the words. It is an ancient language that I and my kind of long since forgotten.
The blackbird chirrups. I have been asked a question.
Yes, I like it here. I find my peace here. I would remain forever…
I sense his smile. He is pleased I find rest and joy within his domain.
Midsummer is rising, the dryads are impatient, eager to weave and dance and play. He must go, so many to see, so much to do. Summer is in full glory. He is in his prime. I know this, feel it… I am remembering the primordial tongue…
Come again. Soon. I would speak with you, see more of you.
I will, and thank you.
I have been welcomed, embraced and now I must go. This is not my world, not now, not yet…
The blackbird twitters at me, his voice full of cheek and laughter. The way, the way, he sings, I will show you the way.
I pause, one lingering hand on the face of Grandfather Oak - my goodbye.
I turn as if in a dream but the spell is breaking. Reality beckons as voices shout in the distance. A jet rumbles overhead. They are poles apart these worlds, yet intrinsically interconnected.
Yes, I hear him say, remember that. We are always here, will always be here. Take that with you as our gift. And come again…
I hear him laugh, his voice echoing in the woods, drifting away, the merry glee of the dryads follows him - and midsummer rises
I know I have been blessed – or bewitched.