Wednesday, July 14, 2010

In the woods

Magic has always fascinated me... but not just any kind of magic. I’m talking about stories woven in the threads of myths and legends of various cultures around the world that contain elements of nature in them... especially the woods.
 

Perhaps my fascination with the woods comes from sensing in their darkness and, sometimes inhuman uniqueness suggestions of our precarious existence. Or perhaps it is the mysteries the forest hides in itself, or the trees standing undaunted, permanently providing shelter and visions of mysterious forms and exotic sounds and rare birds, and children lost in the thickets stumbling into the hands of evil witches...

I suppose I’m also drawn by the mystery found in the woods because I enjoy the use of the imagination. And so, whenever I go to the forest I set out to weave my stories... stories that go back to the old good days of childhood living in a far faraway country in a far faraway land where woods and its mysteries were an intricate part of our heritage.
 
As a child living in the Hollow I would ride on my father’s cart to Hollow Market. Yawning, I would nestle among the sheepskins; the eggs and milk, still warm, beside me. The back of the cart would carry the animals we took to sell. Such was our way of life. Childhood passed slowly, and life was carefree and wonderful. I used to love those early Saturday morning rides to the Market. Only one thing troubled me: Having to cross the dark mysterious woods! For as much as I loved the woods (and still do), crossing the terrible “Culhollow” could only mean bizarre encounters amidst distorted bushes and cramped, twisted knotted by time old trees. Their mossy limbs, low spread, served as home for pixies and ghosts of all sorts.
 
Just the mention of it still makes me shiver: “Culhollow”; that forbidden place. A land of sacred oak groves, druidical temples, and places of deep mystery... but there was no other way to town back then. To reach Hollow village it was necessary to enter that fearsome land of deep flora and ghosts a plenty... you headed north, out of the village, pass the cottages onto the slate-covered descent, and followed down into the woods...
 

On the south side, you’d find a spring of the clearest and the purest water. It bursts from beneath a rock, and, like most of the blessings found in Hollow village (whether we avail ourselves of them or not) it still pours its limpid fountain in fruitful abundance...
 

This river nourishes a thousand beautiful mosses and wild flowers that still today carpet the woods...
 

But for millennia these dense, mystical woodland has been held in awe and for much fear. Many villagers described it as being the most haunted place on earth, others warn that every space, tree and gnarly root is filled with merciless pixies and goblins who steal their young and hide them amidst the moss and leaf strewn tree roots. Locals will never venture near once the sun begins it slow descent over the land, for it was when the dark mantle of night drew tight that the heinous denizens of the wood stalked its paths in search of their human victims.


After a while we would reach a waterfall, where two weeping willows grew, each entwined with the other. No tree had ever grown there before, and now two weeping willows grew, trailing their leaves in the water, as though reaching after something they both had lost...


I knew the place as “The infamous lovers”, because of an illegal love affair between a beautiful maiden called Lady Adelaide and a married man... both were drastically killed by very pious and furious villagers in that same place, which it is call something different now. Lover’s Fall, they call it, the young folk. This place is only visited by the young, now. The old never do, and if they have to pass by it they make sure to make haste, and feel something cold, like a shiver. And they only glance at the mysterious willows growing there; a passing glance that says everything they need to say, and nothing more... They knew that the ghost of Lady Adelaide was known for visiting the place, and some even assured having listen to her very sad song of love, by the feet of the mysterious willows...
 
So you can imagine my fears as a youngster when crossing that part of the woods. The day I told my father that I’d seen the ghost of Lady Adelaide wondering the woods he laughed so hard he cried. “Folk stories”—he said with a click of his tongue, but I could see in his eyes certain hidden fear.... it was true; each of my words beard only truth; just as I’m telling you now. Truth as it is written and spoken...
 
The ghost of Lady Adeline wasn’t crying or seemed sad... in fact, she was glowing as she danced among the old giant trees and picked wild flowers that she would then graciously place in her hair and the folds of her dress...
 

That was the day when I decided I should never again be afraid of the dark mysterious woods... The Culhollow, they call it. You would never again fear walking into that tangled web of trees if you were among the few lucky souls who came across Lady Adelaide’s ghost. I was transported into a mystical world of moss carpeted boulders, lichens of all descript, finger like oak branches, all engulfed in a wonderful smell of earth and age. That's how wonderful and enchanted it was. Unfortunately, all of a sudden she looked back and saw me...
 

Magic was broken in a flutter of thousand butterflies as she run away...
 

I remember seeing her floating atop the foliage and mossy limbs. At one point, as if she knew I was watching her, she stood and turned. I saw her led a smile that spoke volumes when only silence was needed. Then she vanished... like a streak of cinnamon light into the depths of the wood.

THE END!
OK, I’m well aware of my “soppiness” and tacky ways... but I believe I’ve already given you a hint on that fact through my profile, and about what a soppy corny girl I am... so I hope all this soppiness and tackiness haven’t offended you. Besides, listen to what my alter ego has to say:
 
Anne Shirley: Don't you ever imagine things differently from what they are? Marilla Cuthbert: No. Anne Shirley: Oh Marilla, how much you miss. In real life, those pictures were taken this weekend at our first campout of the year. Unspoiled forests and lots of wildlife are in that area as well as scenic byways. I love the incredible beauty and the diversity of the landscape. For me, it would be almost impossible not to dream and give myself to fantasize when surrounded by such beauty. I hope you take time to meet with Nature this summer as you camp and leave your worries behind. I would love to hear your own stories.