After a few seconds she heard Frank shuffle his feet, not impatiently, more like just wondering what if anything was going on. There’d been no lightning bolts or thunder crashes to mark her first touch of the venerable tree, just the usual quiet whisper of the breeze in the leaves overhead and the occasional rustle of night creatures stirring.
Still standing with her fingers on the tree’s flank, her head slightly bowed, Ro said, “Give me a minute.” She meant it both for Frank and for the tree.
“No problem,” Frank said, “take your time.”
She smiled to herself, thinking Frank was now surely having second thoughts about getting involved with this crazy tree-lady.
Ro frowned… Something was happening… There was a kind of emerging awareness of things she had never felt before. No, that’s not right; she’d always been intellectually “aware, ” but now it was more like she was actually a part of the rich and sticky, life-giving sap running up and down Neshnala’s flanks… Part of the vast number of rings in its core – she didn’t know how she knew, but knew, indeed, the tree was very, very old… Part of the tree’s measureless network of roots that over the centuries had clawed their way deep into the revitalizing earth… Part of the great shoulders of branches over her head, some thicker than her thigh, with their endless branching into smaller branches that in turn branched yet again and branched yet again to support millions of leaves soaking up the warmth and life-giving sun.
Ro’s frown quickly changed to a smile. She had always loved Neshnala. Its immense dignity had taken her breath away the first time she’d seen it, and it was taking her breath away yet again. It was so utterly, overwhelmingly beautiful, like sex, but certainly not erotic; filling her with understanding, not about anything specific – “Oh, I can speak Latin now” – but just about the Essence of things – and yes, she did think of it as having a capital E, like a sacred cannon – the totality of things.
She had no idea exactly what this Essence might mean or where it might take her, but just that for now it was enough.
With a contented sigh, she dropped her hand and stepped back. Turning to Frank, she said, “Thank you for that.”
“Did you pay your respects?”
“Yes, I did,” she answered, perhaps a little cryptically, hoping he didn’t push for more information because she had no idea how she could explain to him what had happened between her and Neshnala, since she didn’t yet understand it herself.
“Good,” he said, turning back toward the truck. Glancing at his watch, he added, “I’ve heard there’s this Brody’s Bakery in town that’s just opening for the morning and has these fantastic fresh donuts. Wanna get one and some coffee?”
Ro knew the place. It was on Taylor Avenue a little over two miles from her apartment. They had half-a-dozen bakery display cases as well as a dozen small booths for those who wanted to eat their donuts while still warm. When she’d been a third shift dispatcher, at least once a week or so a deputy would show up at the sheriff’s headquarters at the end of his shift with a dozen fresh donuts from Brody’s for the office staff.
“Let me pick-up my stuff at the cottage and you can follow me there,” she said.
“Sounds like a plan.”
To be continued…
(C) 2018 Dave Lager