They had gone a mile or so in the direction the boy had come from. There were no traces on the forest floor. Of course, Eldairc thought, the rains in the intermediate weeks would have washed away any footprints. Yldich was humming softly, a soft nasal sound that was almost like a chant.
Eldairc saw him touching the leaves of bushes, the low-hanging branches of trees with a delicate, questing touch of his fingers. ‘I doubt you’re going to see any tracks up there,’ he said. ‘Unless they took off like birds.’
Yldich turned his head and grinned. ‘Not very likely,’ he said. ‘But it’s amazing what the Forest will tell you if you’re prepared to listen.’
Eldairc drew up a brow. ‘Like what?’
Yldich halted. ‘Well.’ He laid his hand on the trunk of a slender rowan and closed his eyes. He was still for a while, his face serene, his breathing steady. Eldairc looked at him in wonder. ‘They’ve passed through this part of the Forest,’ Yldich said finally.
Eldairc stared at him. ‘How do you know?’From: The Search for Tzanáta, © Wendy Gillissen, M.A. 2020
‘The tree told me so.’ Yldich sighed. ‘I felt it. A dark, dull energy, clumsily making its way through the trees. They have all felt it. They still remember.’ He laughed at the look on Eldairc’s face. ‘Trees have excellent memories. So would you if you experienced life at their pace. It is much slower than ours. To them, we are like fleeting shadows, butterflies who live but for a day. While they span the ages with their tall trunks.’ He lovingly touched the rowan’s bark. ‘They store their experiences in their bark like we do on parchment. If you know how to read them, there’s not a whole lot that happens in a Forest you can’t find out. If you’ll listen to the trees.’
On the hottest weekend of the year, there was only one place for me to go: into the woods! I found my favorite spot, the old willow tree hanging over the water. When I am with a tree I don’t have to explain myself, I just need to listen. And in understanding the tree, I understand a little bit more about life and about myself.
© Wendy Gillissen, M.A. 2022