Day 138: My sideways tree

“Dear old world,’ she murmured, ‘you are very lovely, and I am glad to be alive in you.”
― L.M. Montgomery, Anne of Green Gables

Anne of Green Gables was one of my early love stories; a girl so full of the love of life that she sparked in me an ability to relish the things that gave me such great joy.

One such place I escaped to on hazy summer days was a place very few people knew about. I called it my sideways tree. This tree was in the middle of a pasture about a mile outside my little town, and I would ride my bike out, past the elevator that smelled like grain and dead rats; past the train tracks; out the country road down to the old part of town, which was really nothing more than 8-10 houses congregating there. On the curve was an old farm house with a lovely pasture. It was fenced in by pristine boards painted white. A few cows grazed within. In the middle of this pasture was a large canopy of leaves. In the midst of summer, all you could see was leaves, but in the fall, when the leaves fell to the ground, you could see the tree for what it really was. The tree had grown out of the earth in a  horizontal layer, so the trunk lay on the ground, and the thick branches rose up in the air, like stairways going in all sorts of directions.

I only went to my sideways tree in summer, when I could remain hidden. I would jump off my bike, leaving it lying in the ditch, and I’d sneak under the white boards after I made sure no cows were near. I’d dash under the leaves of the canopy, and stay hidden away for several hours, eating picnic lunches, burnt cookies, and imagining to my heart’s content. It was a castle, or a pirate’s ship, or a dream house, or any number of places my imagination drew.

Even into my teen years, I would find myself hiding away summer hours within the leaves of my sideways tree, but as time passed, and I grew, fewer and fewer moments were swept away under the tree. Until, at last, my parents moved away and the tree evaporated from my memory with my entry into adulthood. I recently went back to my little town, and the tree was no more. A pasture still exists, but the tree likely rotted away and was cut down. A sadness invaded my heart for what was, and what would not ever be again. Yet the memory of that place is as strong as the smell of the grain and dead rats, and it brings a smile of unrelenting joy to my heart.

DAY 138 HOMEWORK: Remember a place in this lovely world that makes you glad to be alive. Share that story with someone, and remember the joy that comes from within.

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