Daydreams and Dryads

On Midsummer I had a rather lousy day at work, but it was a beautiful rainy evening by the time I left the office, and I decided to blow off some steam by biking down to the lakes.  I was sprinkled by a sunshower as I left the house, that dreamy rarity of rain falling from seemingly clear blue skies paired with bright sunshine, and by the time I reached the first lake, the rain had stopped and there was a glorious rainbow right over the water.

Just off the bike trail I spotted a phenomenally radiant tree with broad fan sized leaves of the brightest apple green and bursting with white trumpety flowers.  I think perhaps it was a basswood of some kind.  The bark was soft and carved with tangled grooves, and its branches twisted about in spiraling asymmetry.

I pulled over off the trail, leaned my bike against the trunk, and settled down in the crook of the tree’s meandering roots.  Above me sprawled the whispering canopy of green and white, all dappled and translucent with evening sunlight, and if I looked ahead I had a perfect view of the rainbow over the blue waves.

My limbs were mighty tired, and I cuddled into my niche in the tree with grateful comfort.  I imagined myself stretching roots deep into the earth, sinking my body into the soft damp and warmth, and I realized I felt myself protected and curled up in the trunk just like All-kinds-of-fur.  (Only instead of hiding from the incestuous proposals of a king, I was simply trying to escape a stressful workday.)

Drowsy, I began chatting amiably to the tree, and I found myself saying, on observing the abundance of flowers she had produced, “My, you’ve been a busy girl, haven’t we?”  I chuckled at the diminishing distinction between myself and my bower.  I asked if she had any advice; she said, “Bend with the wind, and don’t be afraid to lose a few leaves even when you’re growing.”

We had a lovely little conversation, and eventually the evening grew cool and dim, and I determined I ought to be returning home.  I rode past the cemetery and the band shell towards the public gardens, stopped briefly to dip a leaf in the fountain to fan myself, and (in a passionate whim) walked backwards among the roses per the old superstition of Midsummer loves.

I soon made my way back home, and settled in late in the evening, having reflected on my little communion with the tree, I felt it would be a perfect time for a bit of bibliomancy.  So I pulled my beloved Orlando down from the shelf, closed my eyes, flipped to a page and placed my finger.  When I looked, I saw one word: Daphne.

My mythology is a bit rusty, but I knew the name had significance, so I looked it up, and you can imagine my delighted surprise when I was reminded that Daphne was a nymph who, to escape the lustful pursuit of Apollo, transformed herself into a tree.

As Ovid described it (translated by A.S. Kline):

“…A heavy numbness seized her limbs, thin bark closed over her breast, her hair turned into leaves, her arms into branches, her feet so swift a moment ago stuck fast in slow-growing roots, her face was lost in the canopy. Only her shining beauty was left.”

May we all run headlong into our moment of transformation this summer.

Love,
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1 Comment (+add yours?)

  1. Christiwne
    Dec 22, 2014 @ 17:08:54

    Beautiful!!! The nymphs speak to us when we truly need them the most. I have a tree elemental that I built a kinship with. She followed me from her home in an oak where we used to live, to our new house where she now resides in our chestnut tree. I knew she followed when I saw a small new branch growing from about 3 feet above the ground on the trunk. It has NEVER done that! So great that Daphne was able to offer you comfort that stressful day.

    Reply

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