Writing Practice and Meeting up with Your Muse
Writing Leap #76
Writing About Trees
My writing muse, the dancer Isadora Duncan, continues to twirl softly in my imagination. I’m thrilled by her passion to stay true to her own “Isadora” song, to nurture it, to love it, and then express it in dance.
Isadora now keeps company, however, with more of my muses: everything that lives and grows and coexists outside, sheltered by the sky. I have always been in awe of the natural world and now I seek out trees, flowers, shorelines and woodland paths to inspire me. They speak a non-human language. Sometimes I draw them first before writing.
Do you love farmlands, leopards, hummingbirds? A fleeting feeling of recognition and connection can morph into a page or pages of writing. For a writer there is nothing more soul-satisfying, right?
I sat for a long time in front of a very old scraggly beech tree in the hush of a grassy glen. The scene and the moment were protected by a low stone wall that looked more ancient than the tree. After awhile a little girl popped into my imagination. Here she is.
Annie ran and ran deeper into the woods, letting the tears fall that she had scrunched behind her eyes all morning. It was her ninth birthday and Mama was in the hospital.
She found her tree, so, so tall. She looked up and felt the comfort of the sunlight peeking through its leaves and branches. Her tree must have been here a long, long time, she thought. It was a grandpa tree—bark peeling off, branches that hugged each other, as if they were holding each other up.
A little beetle landed on Annie’s arm ever so gently. She looked into its tiny eyes. “I love you, little beetle.” She couldn’t help herself.
A rustle of the wind brought the beetle’s words to Annie. “I know you are sad,” he seemed to say. “I’m sad sometimes too. But you know what I do?”
“What?” Maggie whispered. She didn’t think it at all strange that the beetle was talking to her. Or that she understood him.
“I climb on the old stone wall over there, clear to the top,” he said. “And I feel better. The wall cradles me in a kind way.” The beetle shifted positions on Annie’s arm and went on. “Then I climb up the stem of that yellow buttercup by your tree and rest in the middle of its petals. I can tell the buttercup loves that I’m there.” He paused. “Then I look around and notice all the different shades of green leaves that I see in this clearing—bright green, yellow-green, dark, dark green almost black, and I feel the leaves, big ones, pointy ones, raggedy ones, all sending me comfort. They like me.” The beetle turned its eyes towards Annie’s face. “And most important of all I beam love back to them.” The beetle showed his wings and started to fly away. “And when I go back to my home under the tree roots I may still have some sadness but I know I’m not alone.”
Annie watched the beetle land on a bent blade of grass. Right next to her worries about Mama, she made room in her heart for the comfort of the grandpa beech tree, the protection of the old stone wall, and the friendliness of the butterflies dancing around the soft-colored wildflowers.
Happy Writing Outdoors Everyone,
LINKING THE ARTS
Annie’s Grandpa Tree
A sweet book for children and grown-ups