Tree I Know

Quite some time passes when I am in the company of a tree I feel I know. Some I do, as in I have grown up with them or pass them often on my walks. We have that familiarity of time and company. Others simply stop me because I KNOW them, deep at the center of me. Maybe they feel the same. A sense of deep woodiness at the center of their being about me. I walk among them, along creek beds and down into the marsh, running my hands on their bark. Rough and rutted I scratch my back like a bear. I understand Muir’s passion to protect them. I, too, find it hard to return home. The company they offer runs as rich and deep as their roots.


Gulls at Johnston Lake: Photo by Noelle

Gulls at Johnston Lake: Photo by Noelle

What if it is all to get us to let go of the cliff ledge? What if we’re all being shaken off our belief we must have security, predictability and knowledge? Every hardship a challenge to the internal structures we create to define who we are, how everything works and what is true and real?

What if all of this is for our awakening? To encourage our understanding of freedom, rather than a lesson on imprisonment. To forget everything we think we know and let go of the ledge. Free fall and trust we will fly. What if it’s the reason we chose to live? We wanted every single moment to happen, because our spirit already knew it could soar.


Algae at Johnston Lake: Photo by Noelle

Algae at Johnston Lake: Photo by Noelle

“The creation of something new is not accomplished by the intellect but by the play instinct acting from inner necessity. The creative mind plays with the objects it loves.” – Carl Jung


Algae at Marston Lake: Photo by Noelle

It seeps and bubbles with oxygen and fermenting life from last season and rot… oh there is definitely rot. Dead leaves, sticks, bugs, old fish. It is a soup of color and life that smells earthy and pungent. I watch a water bug crawl across its surface. I cannot tell if it searches for food or is its food. Mosquitos swarm above me, but I tell them I’m busy. They’ll have to dine elsewhere. Most listen, anyway. I love ponds, streams and strange pools of water that life springs out of; moist, hot and teaming with all manner of crawling and swimming things. Sometimes they’re creepy and beautiful, other times decayed and rich.

I grew up on a lake in a neighborhood of mostly boys. I had five brothers. I caught toads and snatched up frogs with a stealth a stork would envy. Salamanders and crawfish were my favorite, but they’re tricky. Not easy to find in fresh water streams and under rocks. I never killed anything. I just liked to catch them and look at their beauty. Flying crickets, Daddy Long Legs, praying mantises, rolly pollies and aphids. Furry night moths, lightning bugs, and long earth worms. Tadpoles, sunnies and catfish. Pike, sometimes, snappers often and boxed turtles on occasion. Once a copperhead snake swam alongside me on the lake and scared me half to death. Their bite is most unpleasant. Smores by the campfire invited a troupe of ants to visit my sleeping bag one night. I have never screamed so loud in all my life.

I spent a lot of time alone as a child. I was often lonely, but never bored. My capacity for make-believe had me in trouble for daydreaming, over the course of my school years, more often than I can count. I enticed a chipmunk into my lap with nothing but my hands, once, and then spun a story of a monk village guarded by dragon and damselflies. I regaled my furry friend with my story, but it only slept. Little heartbeat beating like wild horses in its breast. I couldn’t understand why I never quite fit in anywhere and in my early years thought of my younger self always the odd man out. Or, in this case, odd girl out.

I stare into the percolating algae that festers with life and imagine the gnats and mosquitos are angels that follow me everywhere I go. I am the princess of a swamp and they are my guardians. What is there to do? Bugs and birds may swarm, but never princesses. They always seem to travel alone.