The Enchanted Forest
When I was a little girl, we spent one year living in a big white house on an acre of land. Bordering the left side of our property was a grove of miniature pine trees. My imaginative, young mind was drawn to it like a magnet. It was the perfect place to hide out from pesky younger brothers and the reality of my parents' dissolving marriage.
The dense copse of trees were like friends to me. Just tall enough to shelter me from the outside world, and thick enough to make me feel secluded but never afraid of getting lost. Weaving my way through the labyrinth, they tickled me with their soft, prickly branches and tousled my curls. They welcomed me, spreading the floor with a blanket of needles so thick that not an ounce of moisture seeped in.
My favorite tree stood near the middle of the grove. Completely bare on one side, its destiny was never to be a Christmas tree. But it proved the ideal place to rest my back, knees bent, notebook in lap, and spin my fanciful tales. I called this place my Enchanted Forest, for in it, I was transformed.
That year was really the marking point for the beginning of my career as a writer. I'd always been an avid reader, but it was then that I realized I could write books too, and fell head-over-heels in love with the entire creative process. I didn't have to wait for my mother to have time to take me to the library in order to lose myself in a story world. I could go there -- anywhere -- in my mind whenever I wanted. All it took was a pen and a blank sheet of paper. I filled many a sap-smeared, spiral-bound notebook with my musings.
Recently, my husband and I took a drive in the country and I recognized the street sign. "Turn here!" I cried, my heart thumping wildly as we drove down the dusty, dirt road. I perched on as much of the edge of my seat as my seatbelt would allow, craning my neck, anticipation and an inexplicable nervousness crowding my throat.
Would the trees look the same? Would they remember me?
I almost missed them, impossible as that seems. We were nearly past them before I realized that the trees I was staring at were the very same ones I'd been searching for. The only way I can describe it is that it was like bumping into someone you haven't seen since you were both in grade school at the grocery store. The snapshot in my memory did not match up with the one in front of me.
Those stately pines stood tall and regal, pressed tight together, their tips piercing the evening sky. The old, white house was now dwarfed in their collective shadow. I pressed my hand to the glass in silent greeting as we drove past. They made no acknowledgement, so far as I could tell.
I wondered, had their magic vanished? Or did they clutch it still, deep inside? As we drove on, their reflection fading in the rearview mirror, I closed my eyes and envisioned them as they had been in their youth. Spry, young saplings with beckoning boughs outstretched, when light filled their depths and they freely shared their secrets.
Somewhere deep inside I felt a glow.
Perhaps, the magic of the enchanted forest lives on within me.