The oaks stand tall with branches of protection, like an armored guard.
I appreciate their strength and dignified beauty, but the pines are my comfort.
One lone branch defiantly stretching opposite the rest of the tree reaches out to me like the hand of an old friend - her long, green needles a kind and soft offering. With one glance, one inhalation of her scent, a thousand memories fill me. They are both clouded and crystal clear. I know them by heart but the details escape me. In that moment all I can say is they come from the past and they are good. I can’t put my finger on a single one. I can’t tease out the specifics of time and place, of who and what. When they all collect like that they are a unified voice speaking one word – home.
I round the bend in the path with Lucy’s hand in mind squeezing three times – I. Love. You. I’ve done it since she was old enough to walk alongside me – our secret language. A moment, a memory, a consistent act I’m weaving into who she is, who she will be. She squeezes back – one, two, three. We speak without saying a word and then I point to the branch. The end of its reach is just at eye level for her. We pause for a moment and I tell her how it spoke to me. I know she doesn’t understand. One day she will, when the memories collect for her.
Our morning stroll takes us past purple verbena and darting orange butterflies. As we walk, we talk, and I tell her how I will make a picture with my words when we get back home. Like a camera captures an image within its frame I will capture this one on a page.
This work of writing is infinitely more difficult for me than clicking a button, and yet the result is far more rewarding and enduring. So I do it – over and over and over again. I step onto the dance floor, wait for the music, and let my fingers fall into the rhythm of the words. To be a writer is to welcome the hard work of sifting through our words and wonder to find something worth stringing together and sharing.
On some days the result is a story leading the reader to a specific location and on days like this one I can only paint you a picture that slows you down, takes you back and leaves you to wander your own paths. I hope you know - wandering isn't always a waste. Now that I've led you to the edge of the woods, the edge of times remembered and treasured I hope you will take a little time to discover what's waiting there for you - where the pines welcome you home.