photo provided by McCale Ashenbrener

image provided by McCale Ashenbrener

Me and a Tree

McCale Ashenbrener

To be able to finally see you meant I had to learn to forget myself.  

Down an interstate, to a highway, to a right turn on a rutted road. Silt so fine it created great plumes behind me like fury road. 

On the canyon rim we picked our way down rhyolite boulders in a sinewy path to the water’s edge. Pack rafts inflated, we felt like scouts escaped from camp, going rogue on an adventure with corner store inflatable toys. 

We squeezed and jostled our way down to a bend of the river at the lowest of flows. A cozy, deep eddy, a sandy beach, the constant murmur of a river finding its way around big boulders.

It was there we entered the oneness. An opening of the mind, where every gateway and spigot to my perception and heart had been breached. Layers and filters of color, prism, and geometry overwhelmed the senses. Searching for intimacy and reprieve I wandered from the shore to the cliff perch to your tender center dear Juniper, where I was pulled close to your thorny core.  

My mind was so flooded with feeling and perception it didn’t bother to make out thoughts that would determine how I felt about you, how you looked, of what use you had for me.  I felt you.  And the blur at the edge of me melted into you, for you know not how to edge.  Tendrils of color and feeling wept into each other to make something new.  I was no longer so acutely aware of where I ended and you began, and the question itself felt silly.  Like asking if you like my black summer dress that you’ve never seen nor know exists.  And we were one, doing nothing but being the sound and the smells and the tastes of the moment.  

I wept. It felt so lovely to be held unconditionally in the deep knowing there was nothing to know, nowhere to go, nothing to push up against. I could spill myself out in a puddle that traveled curiously outward for always, for I needn’t steel myself for an anticipated impact.  My muscle memory of bracing and coping and striving made no sense here.  There are no rutted roads in the core of existence, no worn paths that cradle us like fervent bobsledders down a path we have no free will to choose.  There just is.  The rustle of leaves, the rooting of bugs in your roots, the incessant coo of water flowing, the slow ache and yearn of life becoming itself.

McCale Ashenbrener - tree admirer, river enthusiast, snow seeker, designer, mother, lover of wild spaces, dreamer of communes with people and nature.

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