The Muse at the Keyboard
Recently, Joanna Young of Confident Writing announced a Group Writing Project. The goal was to step out of our comfort zone and write in a style we haven’t used before, or use a different medium.
I found this challenge to be quite a challenge! Yet, the more I thought about it, the more I wanted to give it a go.
Since I like photography and use it in my Monday Story Photo posts, I decided to use a photo that didn’t seem to have anything special about it. I picked the above picture of a group of trees.
Then I sat staring at the blank screen and waited… and waited… and waited. When my fingers finally hit the keyboard, what evolved was something unique: a conversation between me and these five trees.
As my fingers flew across the keyboard, the trees developed names and personalities. What emerged is the following story. This is longer than most of my posts but that is something else that is different about this. Plus, I like to talk and evidently so do the trees.
A Family of Trees
One day my boyfriend JC went golfing and I decided to tag along with my camera. When he lost his ball I went into this group of trees to search for it.
While I was looking for the ball, I heard a gravelly male voice speak. It sounded like a character from the “Sopranos”: “Hey lady, the ball is over here.”
I looked around and saw nobody. Politely, I asked, “Where are you? I can’t see you.”
The gravelly voice sounded annoyed, “Oh, come on! I’m right in front of you! Why aren’t you wearing your glasses?” With a sigh of disgust he added, “Women can be so vain!”
“What right did this guy have talking to me that way, and where the heck was he?” I thought angrily.
All I saw were trees. “Look,” I said patiently, “I don’t know what game you’re playing, but I can’t see you, so why don’t you just bring me the ball?”
There was silence. Then a soft, young feminine voice spoke, “He can’t come to you. His old roots are too deep. You’ll have to go to him, but don’t worry, he’s my Grandpa and he just gets cranky sometimes.”
“Was somebody playing a trick on me?” I wondered. I was sure that voice had come from the tree beside me. I looked up to see if someone had climbed the tree.
“What are you doing?” Ask an older female voice. “Stop looking up her branches. Are you some kind of pervert?”
I stepped back and looked around in surprise. These trees were staring at me! “Whoa Nelly,” I thought to myself. “JC must have spiked the coffee!”
Before I could make a fast exit, a male voice stopped me in my tracks. “Didn’t anyone tell you it’s rude to stare?”
I paused and smiled to myself. “Well, I talk to myself and everything else; I guess it couldn’t hurt to talk to trees.”
I turned and asked, “Okay, why are you talking to me?”
The older female voice answered, “We like to help people who are searching for golf balls.” Then she sounded sad, “Most people aren’t listening, so they don’t even hear us.”
“Why can I hear you?” I asked.
“Don’t know; don’t care. Just get this dag gum ball out of my stomach!” interrupted the gravelly voice. My anger bubbled to the surface as the younger female voice spoke again.
“Grandpa, be nice! It’s not her fault her boyfriend hit the ball into your stomach!”
Just then I thought I heard laughter; or was it only the wind in the trees?
The older female sighed, “Perhaps we should introduce ourselves. I’m Shirley. To my left is my lovely daughter, Penelope and next to her is Brother Tom.”
She heaved a heavier sigh before continuing, “Tom is a teenager and he’s into the whole tree preservation movement. He ignores humans.” Then she introduced her father, “Grandpa” with the gravelly voice, and her husband, Peter.
I shook my head in disbelief. “I was having a conversation with a family of trees. What next?”
“Uh,” I said tentatively, “How long have you lived here?”
“Grandpa’s been here for hundreds of years; Shirley and I about a century, Penelope is ten and Tom is sixteen.” Peter paused and then in a scolding voice said, “Come on Tom, it couldn’t hurt to say hello to our guest!”
There was a long awkward silence that I finally interrupted, “I bet you’ve seen a lot of history. Do you enjoy living on a golf course?”
“It’s okay,” replied Shirley, “We’ve heard some very colorful language though. Humans sure take golf seriously. You learn patience when you get to be our age.”
The leaves in the trees began to rustle, yet there was no wind. “Weird!” I thought.
In defense of JC and other golfers, I said, “Golf isn’t an easy game to play. JC works really hard at it.”
I swear if Grandpa could have jumped, he would have. “Young lady, your boyfriend needs to practice more because his golf ball hit me in the stomach! That hurts!”
“Take it easy Dad. You’ll get that ball out won’t you?” asked Shirley. “By the way, what’s your name?”
“Sara,” I replied, while walking towards Grandpa. “I’ll be glad to remove that golf ball.” I looked into the hole and sure enough, there was JC’s ball. I reached in and pulled it out.
There was a huge sigh of relief and then Grandpa spoke, more calmly this time. “Thanks. That feels so much better. I got hit by lightning about five years ago and I’ve been grumpy ever since.”
“I imagine so,” I said. “I’m glad I could help. Neither JC nor I would want to hurt you.” I patted Grandpa’s bark as I spoke.
“Well then, don’t just stand there girl! Reach down and remove that other sucker from my right root!”
I looked down and sure enough, there was another golf ball wedged tightly in Grandpa’s gnarly roots. I tugged and eventually pulled it out.
“Ouch!” he yelled, and then more quietly, “What a relief.”
I heard leaves rustling again, just like a few minutes earlier. I must have looked surprised because Penelope spoke up.
“Don’t worry, that’s just how we trees act when we’re happy.”
“You mean trees rustle their leaves when they’re happy?” I asked.
“You bet we do.”
I could hear JC calling and as much as I was enjoying the conversation, I knew I had to get going.
“It’s been nice meeting you,” I said. “But I hear my boyfriend calling.”
“Perhaps you will visit again,” Peter suggested.
“I’d like that.” I smiled. “Hey, can I take your picture?”
“Sure!” they chorused and Grandpa added, “Don’t expect us to move closer. You’ll have to adjust yourself to get the picture, cause we ain’t goin’ nowhere!”
So, I took a picture of this family of five trees: Shirley, Penelope, Tom, Grandpa and Peter.
See how they’re smiling for the camera? Except for Tom that is; he’s sort of wrapped up in himself.
Remember this family. The next time you hear a tree’s leaves rustling, when there’s no wind, you’ll know that’s one happy tree.