When I was thirteen my shoulders began to slump. They’ve stayed that way ever since. It’s a wound I carry, I know, but when I walk by the mountain stream I stand tall, and walk with a confident stride that massages my spine. This is what I want to practice. Standing tall. Breathing deep the air of this place. Greeting the sky. Bowing to the trees.
There’s a sharp turn in the stream that is off the road, and down a little path. I sometimes go there—it’s a lovely secluded spot. In the hottest days of summer the whole family will come and brave the numbing water to jump from high rounded rocks into the deep pool. I’m not sure that we’ve touched the bottom at its deepest point, which is not so much a testament to its depth as to the frigidity of the water. When you swim here, you are always gasping for breath. It’s intoxicating.
Of course I’m not swimming today. I am here to visit a tree. She is particularly beautiful because her branches fan out over the pool in a blessing gesture. I lay my back against her body and let her work her magic. Twice I try to pull away before she’s done, but she pulls my shoulders back to nestle up against her bark again. I breathe and I tingle. This, too, is intoxicating. The whole of me is charged with tree magic.
In the afternoon the pillow becomes a magnet for my head. I try to resist its guilty pleasure but my hands were pulling the blanket over my shoulders and my eyes were settling into a soft gaze. I think back to the energy of the tree tingling in my back, my belly, my hands. How is it that it didn’t last? Or maybe, like some medicine, it is working deep and silent, to reap a harvest of healing in ways I don’t expect.