It is so interesting where inspiration springs from; I was listening to a performance by a friend’s chamber group at the conference yesterday morning, and the text of one of the movements dealt with the trees of a person’s childhood. All of the sudden I was transported back to the old house on Westwood Lane and my own childhood with sweet Heavy D*.
I could see myself climbing high in the tall pine trees in the corner of the large back yard, feeling exhilaration at the swaying of the tops of the trees in the wind. I felt compelled to climb as high as I could, the thinner the branches at the top, the more they danced. It gave me such a feeling of freedom to be up so high, such abandon, looking out over our neighborhood…and I had zero common sense fear of being so precariously high above the ground. Times certainly have changed.
In the front yard, I climbed the oak trees, scuffing my knees on the knobby bark. I remember running my fingers over the bark, fascinated at its texture, looking for faces in nature’s design. I felt at home up in my natural tree forts, a comfort and peace that I never seemed to find on the ground when I was young.
Something happened in the oak tree that I will never forget; I spied a young owl in the top branches. I climbed up very slowly and got close to the creature, staring at its large, wise, and beautiful eyes. It froze, staring back at me, unblinking, and I cautiously reached out toward it, wanting somehow to connect with this beautiful bird. It stood stock still as I stroked its claws, and it felt as though we had a moment of silent communication, an understanding. I was a young girl, a tomboy, and the young owl seemed to have no fear of me, to understand that I meant it no harm, only wanting to join with it for a brief moment in time. It was magical to me, and I barely breathed, wanting the communion to go on and on. Finally, the owl flapped its wings and took flight.
When I was attending a conference in Tampa last January, I drove out to Brandon to see the old house. It was the first time I had driven by it since Mom died, and it was an emotional experience. I was sad to see that the trees I had once climbed were all gone, sacrificed to someone’s new landscaping vision for the place. Life goes on. No matter, because those trees and the joy they brought to me will live on in my memory.
While I now have a bit of a fear of heights, I have always loved to be up high, sleeping in the top bunk bed as a kid, buying two two-story houses, loving to sleep upstairs. I gravitate to our top deck that sits above our house, and when I’m up there and the wind blows just the right way and the trees dance all around me…for that moment I am a child again, sitting high up in a tree on Westwood Lane, feeling the freedom and the peace, the possibilities endless.