April 06, 2005

My Secret Self

As a child, I had a special place to which I retreated when I needed or wanted to be alone. Actually, there were a couple of special places. The first was a loft in a barn behind the bales of hay. That spot was ideal when it was cold and rainy outside.

The barn was the perfect place to stash things, a favorite toy I wanted to save and protect from others, my piggy bank, and my journal. Well, I later learned that paper, particularly paper money, did not fare so well in the barn, but coins did great.

I spent many hours holed up in the barn with my dog at my feet pretending the loft was the captain's quarters or deck on a pirate ship or the captain's chair on my very own Enterprise. I could be the swashbuckling pirate or the fearless Star Fleet Commander, but not so much the maiden in distress because there was really no one else around to save me.

The other special place was in a very old and very grand oak tree on a steep bank in a bend of a slow moving river. The tree had a fair number of roots exposed and leaned at an angle toward the water.

I loved that tree.

Despite time and erosion slowly extinguishing its life, it continued to grow limbs, leaves, and acorns. The massive trunk was easy to climb because of its precarious angle. Half of the upper part of the oak was directly over the river. It was in the tangled limbs of the top third of the tree that I made my nest among the squirrels and birds.

No treasures were kept in the tree. At most, I had fashioned a hammock of sorts out of part of an old seine net that had once been used to collect crawfish out of shallow ponds.

Pretend play was performed in the loft and everywhere else, but the oak tree was for thinking, watching, wondering, and, occasionally, napping.

Even now I can close my eyes and feel the sun on my face and arms, the breeze tugging at my hair, and the gentle swaying of the limbs rocking me. I can hear the leaves rustle, the birds sing, and the water flow. I can also smell the fresh air and clean water. In my mind's eye, I can see the blue of the sky and watch the clouds roll by.

What I would not give for an hour in that tree.

Posted by Christina at April 6, 2005 11:07 PM

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