Waxing Moon at Refuge by Sara Wright

Waxing moon
fringed Hemlocks
blink in and out
Owls converse
from Needled Crowns
bathed in
Air and Light.
Refuge Tree
soothed by
Familiar calls
sighs deeply,
In the Night.

Refuge incarnates as Aphrodite… 

In the forest I slip into a lime green skin with the help of one hemlock, under whose feathery wings this transformation takes place. I breathe her sweet scent through my supple membrane.  Standing beneath Refuge, whose roots claw the edge of a steep slope that bows to the river, I can barely see the crown of the tree, maybe 150 feet in the air. This hemlock towers over the rest. Moss and lichen adorn her limbs and the tree’s deeply ribbed reddish brown bark is an invitation to touch that I can never resist. Scrambling down the slope with care I lean against the tree and listen, always hoping… sometimes I think I hear a low hum if the wind is still. Perhaps I’m imagining.

This one tree stands like a sentry in a forest that hugs a stream. I habitually stand under her boughs peering up her massive trunk. I stroke her red ribbed bark tenderly as I query unconventional thoughts and tell her she’s beautiful. Trees don’t have ears but they hear sounds so she is listening…I can only hug half of her at a time. S/he has a circumference of ten feet and six inches. Surrounded by many other hemlocks not as old, all line the waters edge and must be relatives. Behind them, the spongy duff of the forest floor is covered with young hemlock seedlings of various ages that are being fed underground by their elders.

Further up the steep bank these spreading boughs create space for white pine, spruce, birch and other deciduous trees that make up the rest of this mixed forest. A witch hazel grows at Refuge’s feet on the stream-side, while an inch high seedling sprouts in the center of the base of her trunk on the side closest to me. This one- inch seedling has doubled her size this spring –Lime green needles sprout from every teeny twig! A Lilliputian marvel.

Hemlocks define whole ecosystems, their nitrogen rich needles cover the forest floor, sprouting a plethora of seedlings around their roots that will be nurtured by nearby mother trees. It must be noted that although I call Refuge tree a she, she is also a he! Both female and female cones are borne on a single hemlock, and all are mother trees, that are pollinated by the wind. An understory grows up underneath the spreading boughs and limbs creating a branching step-ladder that can reach the stars. Delicate cones bow and drop from the ends of the fringed twigs, some each fall. 

 During the day Refuge is framed by cobalt blue, dove gray or charcoal and deep green in summer. Deciduous leaves – maple and beech lime the forest. With so many roots entwined, this complex woodland organism developed awareness a long time ago and is engaging in conversation that probably moves us beyond what we can ever know.

Hemlocks like all trees support us by providing the oxygen we need to breathe and by storing masses of carbon. Hemlocks in particular purify waters, supporting trout by keeping streams and rivers cool, deflecting heavy rain so that soil will not be lost, lower forest temperatures keeping the air more stable…these facts we know. Hemlocks also flood the air with fragrant terpenes, chemicals that relax us, heighten mood, and can heal damaged lungs. To me this sweetened air is Aphrodite come to life at the edge of summers turning…

Trees like hemlocks demonstrate Love in its purest form by communicating with kin and neighbors, nurturing young, protecting and providing homes/ protection for the birds, and accepting with grace the seasons as they pass…  even while dying these trees send nutrients to support future generations.  Aphrodite lives… 

 Trees of Green Peace and Flowing Waters.

BIO: Sara is a naturalist, ethologist (a person who studies animals in their natural habitats) (former) Jungian Pattern Analyst, and a writer. She publishes her work regularly in a number of different venues and is presently living in Maine.

Author: Sara Wright

I am a writer and naturalist who lives in a little log cabin by a brook with my two dogs and a ring necked dove named Lily B. I write a naturalist column for a local paper and also publish essays, poems and prose in a number of other publications.

8 thoughts on “Waxing Moon at Refuge by Sara Wright”

  1. Beautiful! “Hemlocks also flood the air with fragrant terpenes, chemicals that relax us, heighten mood, and can heal damaged lungs. To me this sweetened air is Aphrodite come to life at the edge of summers turning…” I’ve started noticing this – how when I am near our hemlock or out in the woods I can sense the change in the air, but I never knew the word for terpenes. Another reason we all need to spend more time with trees!


  2. You know more about trees than I ever could. You love them more than anyone else. Were you a hamadryad in an earlier life? Bright blessings!


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