My reflection came fragmented when I stared into the river, as though I gazed into a dozen shards of glass. I suppose this would be as apt a time as any to describe myself, but I’ll spare you the irrelevant details. I came only to tell a story—my story to be precise.
I whiffed the earthy scent of pines into my nostrils, that same fragrance that greeted me whenever I traveled into the woods. It was not a common routine amongst the folk of my village, I’ll be the first to admit that, but I took pleasure in it. It was not so much that there was anything to do out in the wilds either. I was never good with the bow, so hunting game was never an option, and I was not young enough to even contemplate spending my time climbing on the boughs of rowans or pines. I only enjoyed the serenity.
Those notes of birdsong that rang out from the trees, the rush of running water twining through the brush, and that faint breeze that whispers through the leaves. It was that last one that always captivated me. Call me mad or whatever you like, but I knew that they spoke to me.
The trees, I mean.
I cast a pebble across the lazing waves of the river and I perked up my ears. Those hushed murmurings which the trees are so fond of keeping secret made themselves known to me. I listened with a monk’s patience. Perhaps this day I would understand…something! You might jeer at me for believing in such “hogwash” as you would undoubtedly call it, but whom are you to say that the trees do not confer amongst themselves? Whom are you to say that they do not laugh, cry, shout, sing, and combine all of these together just as we do? I was on the cusp of making the discovery of their words, and with that in my mind I awaited the serenade of the trees to lull my ears once again.
And then it came.
And then I listened.
And I had yet to understand.
I buried my sorrowful face into the palms of my hand, despaired that I had yet to understand the Secret Language of the Trees. So severe had my sorrow been that my heels spun toward the dirt path that snaked out of my beloved forest. But right before my boots took the first steps out of the wood, the leaves shimmered with the Secret Language of the Trees once again.
“Come…come…” they were words so low that, had I been a lesser man (which I can assure you I am not) I would have passed them off as stray thoughts. “I await…I await…” and it was then that I had known the Secret Language I belabored to seek for months without end.
Baffled, bedazzled, and awestricken, I had scarcely been able to contain myself in order to compose a response. For what, if anything, could mere man say to the face of such a being? How could it be that a great soul imprisoned within a temporal body, such as myself, would even deign to converse with oaks, rowans, and birches that had lived for centuries!?
“You needn’t fear…you needn’t fear…come closer…so you may hear the whole of my speech…” Unnatural—ungodly! It is only these words that could summarize the Secret Language of the Trees. It was a feeling more than a sound, a prickle at the nape of my neck, a tingle down my spine, and the wind’s chill embrace on top.
“V—voice that speaks in the Hidden Language of the Trees! Where is it that you may be?” I croaked out my response like a cowering toad.
As if in response to my question, a puff of wind tussled the locks of my hair from behind me. The instant I had whirled round, I was met with a rowan whose stout roots split the earth beneath it. Thick and rugged bark carpeted it, with broken chips of it revealing the pale wood that hid underneath. Its boughs were crooked so that the two of them faced me like the arms of a mother whom sought to cradle her child.
The reckless boy that I was, I dove straight into the question that burned in the back of my mind. “Are you the tree whom speaks the Secret Language of the trees to me?”
“It is no other than I,” the rowan tree vibrated just a trifle when it spoke. “Yet I know not why you call it the Secret Language of the Trees. The speech I utter is no secret, nor is it unique to the trees. The birds sing it in their chirps, the rivers shows it in its waves, and—as both you and I bear testament to—the human speaks it as well.”
“Then why is it that I have not heard the Language of the Trees until today? Is it that you wish to keep the humans at bay?”
“Nay, the Folk of Bark love the People of Flesh. It is the People of Flesh whom ignore us. Since long have they hafted the axe and cut out brothers down—yet the Folk of Bark love them all the same. Long have we waited for one such as you, a man of flesh whom can listen and understand the Language of the Forest.”
A grand burden had nestled itself within my heart. For despite his indiscernable visage, a sympathy had planted itself within me. “Say no more, Sir of the Bark! I’ve been given the gift of the Language of the Forest, and squander it I shall not! To the village I will go and bring my friends whom would surely love to know the Language of the Forest!”
The Folk of Bark shimmered and leaves soared from its boughs. “It gladdens this old tree’s heart! Go now! And tell your friends of the Language of the Forest!”
I took a deep breath and ventured out of the forest. Joy propelled my stride, and by midday I had come to the square of my village, and then I came upon the well.
It was there that I stood and heralded thus. “Come you lot, come to me! Many are the wonders that you shall see! For I have learned how to speak with the trees!”
Many a man wandered past me. About a dozen glances came at me within the village square. As the crimson sun melted into the horizon, I labored to tell of the secret Language of the Trees. Yet naught save for three souls came to me on that day. A woodsman whose beard dragged down to his waist, a cook whose apron was smeared with grease, and a guard whom treated his spear as his niece. It was these men that I took to learn the Secret Language of the Trees.
By late evening I had returned to the forest, and sought out that Rowan tree that had spoken to me. “O, Folk of the Bark, please listen to me! I’ve brought the men whom wish to make acquaintance with thee!”
A rumbling quaked from deep in the woods. “Hark! It gives me glee to know that you’ve returned, One whom speaks the Language of the Forest! Bring forward your friends so I may speak with them.”
I turned round again and urged each of them forward. Yet the woodsman, the cook, and the guard beheld me with confounded expressions.
“A proper fool you are! To say we can confer with the trees! My daughter has crafted better lies, and she’s just three!” the woodsman grunted and left, for he cared not for the Secret Language of the Trees.
“You’ve driven me away from my inn, and now my patrons are sure to cause a din! All because you chose to take me for a spin!” the cook groaned and stormed out of the forest. He too had never cared for the Secret Language of the Trees.
“Tis a demon with which you speak! Such habits belong only to the meek! The whole village’ll know o’ this by the end of the week!” And the finally left the guard, for he cared not for the Secret Language of the Trees.
“Despair not, friend.” The Rowan tree sang to me. “There ought to be others, and they are sure to believe in the Language of the Forest.”
Hope was rekindled in my heart, and thanking the old Rowan I set off for my village again. For what remained of dusk, I proclaimed to my town of the Secret Language of the Trees, Yet in the coming morn none had listened. But the Rowan’s hope remained in my heart.
And when the sun rose and the roosters cried, I came to the square and heralded the message of the previous night. Heads turned, children were rushed away from the square, and vendors screamed at me, for distracting potential buyers of their wares. And then dusk came, and not a soul had come before me. But the Rowan’s hope held its grip on my heart.
Day and night, night and day, and then came another night. I bore the message of the Rowan, but today none would spare me the time. Owls hooted deep in the wood, and then came a storm of rushing torches. It was the men and women of the village.
And they called me thus. “A madman you are! Keep away from our hearths! The trees cannot reason, and neither can you! So leave this town, for that is what you ought to do!”
I spared not a word for them, as they would not hear. And leave the town I did, shedding many a tear. Abandoned, lonely, and with no home to go to, I came to the Rowan’s wood. I whiffed the pines as I had done before, and called to the Rowan to give it my report.
“Friend of the Bark! Long has it been! But pray tell, why is it that you come alone?” said the Rowan.
“For I failed to find friends to speak with thee, whom would teach them the secret Language of the Trees. A madman they call me and cast me out they did! From the home I’d been raised in since I was a kid!”
“It is my fault, Friend of the Bark, it seems I’ve taken this too far. Pretend you never heard of me, and come back to your home. You need never speak to me again, for I will do well on my own.”
Another great sorrow had seized me from within, for then, when I had been alone, the Rowan had come to blame itself. Yet soon my heart knew another truth, and that was that I had indeed never been alone. For when while my old friends were now in the past, I had gained friendship with the Rowan, and one that would last. “Never will I return to the village, never will I see their faces anew. But it matters not, for I have gained the friendship of the oaks, birches, and the yews.”
The Rowan tree shimmered for the last time in delight, and whistled to me in the Secret Language of the Trees. “Man of Flesh, we have formed ties that bind. It brings me great joy, to think of the next days of our lives.”
And so it was that I gained kinship with the Rowan in that old forest, and how I had come to learn the Secret Language of the Trees. To this day I listen to birdsong, rivers, whistling wind, and all wonders of the forest, yet there is no wonder more wondrous than that of a friend. Sometimes folk of the village will come to the wood, and they mock me without abandon. But in truth, I could care less. For I have found a place where I was understood. So I ask you dear reader, bearing my chronicle in mind, the next time you go out into the forest and the next time you come upon the towering pines, rowans, or birches, that you stop a moment. Stop and listen.
For you too may hear the Secret Language of the Trees.
You could be as those people who go about life looking at everything as being normal, or you could stop for a moment and see the true wonders behind those things. People might mock you for doing just that, but don’t listen to them. The world is not as mundane as others would have us believe, and the sooner you realize that, the better your life will be. – QuestingAuthor
An old parable type of story that I published here some months ago. I wrote this during a blackout on my island, and I came out satisfied with the result. I’ll be out camping by the time this is reuploaded on the blog, so best of luck to you all. I hope this is to your enjoyment.