Between my house and the next is a mass of trees, so thick that the canopies become indistinguishable from the twilight on, a crepuscular creature with a thousand floating tendrils drifting in an invisible breeze, standing stalwart on mighty, sometimes twisted beams. I differentiated in my youth the trees which were good for climbing, and I could spring like a woodland fairy from one branch to the next without a falter; I learned the spots where the leaves fell so thick they made a veritable bed of damp, soft foliage, and stumble home in the evening wet with that ubiquitous moisture of the forest floor. I knew where to find little troves of pinecones, scattered about the ground through wind or the reach of the great trees, and often spent an afternoon stockpiling them amongst the roots.
I knew the paths which avoided the burs and the thorns, and I sensed which trees were old and would fall in the next great storm; I encouraged the young trees with childish supplications and caressing fingers, willing them, pulling them closer to the sun. When a tree fell I made the halo of its vertical roots into an alter for my innocence. I poked about the mud for worms, and in variance with my capricious mood, either released them back into their soggy homes, or left them on branches as offerings to the omnipresent but ever-concealed birds.
In the winter the space became a graveyard. The weather-beaten brown-gray oaks were sepulchers of the promise of life. If I placed my ear against the bark I could hear the distant hum of greenness, vivacity, the eternal turn of seasons deep within the dry cracked bark, but it was buried well. Dead leaves rotted into the ground and vanished, sometimes, under a heavy shroud of white, the color of mourning in my eyes, and therefore a fitting tribute to summer’s death. When the sun once more rose on the curling green infants of spring, alight on the branches’ ends, two seasons’ hardships transformed the fertile earth once more into the luscious carpet of the palace of the nymphs. In this time the sun was never gray, and the Earth never dark, but every fiber of nature breathed the secret of birth, and the breeze of the morning whispered of the light of day, and nightfall caressed the slumber of the spirits of the trees, and told them in its stars of the endless story of the rebirth of the world.