Sanctuary

Shhh! I’ve found somewhere perfect for us to hide from life – don’t tell anyone! Come on…let me show you, but quiet…tread softly until we’re out of sight, out of mind, and then we can be free (if only for a short while).

Take my hand and step this way…

It’s the sunlight I love most about being in the woods. There’s something magical and almost intimate about the way the trees seem to still all noises, creating a hush between their trunks, as though the world had come under their spell and slipped into a half-awake state. The occasional flurry of birdsong adds cascades of melody to the sunshine, pouring in regal, gold-moted columns through the canopy to dapple the forest floor.

Even on gloomy days, when mist shrouds the forest and everything shines dew-dropped and sopping, the greens – deep and luscious in the conifers, through to the wafer-thin lime over each oak tree, with lichens and mosses coating roots with spongy, trailing greys and yellows – still pop out and please the eye, in spite of the sodden, incessant damp and the scent of loamy earth, rich as fruit cake, which pervades except where the sharp resin of the pine trees cuts through.

Tree Warmth

But on days like today – when our feet dance crisply across last year’s leaves, and the tree tops meet overhead creating a tunnel around our pathway, drawing our mind’s eye ahead to the delights which await us around the next corner – the forest is at its most glorious. High summer is the best time of year here, and the jigsaw of green overhead allows warmth to seep down with the spangled light, and the insects zither lazily; heat-drugged and loving it.

Can you smell the salt yet? See how the light in the sky has changed – that richness has gone, and it’s paler; brighter and reflecting off…oh! Run with me…two corners more until you see…

…the sea.

Our own bay; down a small hill and through reed covered dunes, rolling in sandy mimicry of the waves ahead. We can walk for hours, collecting the shells scattered like pearls in a necklace through the ribbons of tide-stranded seaweed. If we’re fortunate and the beach feels kind, we might find a lucky stone, with a hole somehow bored perfectly through it by mysterious means the sea won’t reveal. We can revisit simpler days and build sandcastles, digging trenches to corral the foaming waves into moats, watching as the edges of our handiwork crumbles at the swell of water, to subside and smooth, leaving no trace of ever having been. We can swim, face-down, watching tiny fish flickering between patches of seaweed – living, miniature forests in browns and khakis, with bubbles instead of birdsong, and the constant ebb and flow of surf moving them in time to the breathing of the ocean.

Lucky Stone 2

We can picnic under the baking sun, skin crisping with salt, and tangled hair whipping in the breeze as it flies upwards, giving lift to the sea-birds, which hang in the air like unfettered, beady-eyed kites watching to make their move, wheeling and diving for morsels.

We can lie on faded blankets, chins tucked on sand-crusted arms, setting the world gently to rights through the scent of sun-cream and every summer ever, until the words are all said, and there’s little to do except watch the colours in the sky paint the world in reds and oranges more vivid than neon, capping each wave with fluorescent glitter, until the idea of swimming in sunset seas becomes too delightful and we run and whoop and dive and splash, shouting for sheer delight, sending fountains of pink and orange water skywards, just to see the light reflected in a thousand diamond drops.

Gradually the sun’s bright disc slips inexorably over the edge of the world, leaving shadows and a chill in place of its warmth. The neon skies fade out to pastels and dove-greys, whilst in the deepening blue in the east, tiny sparks of cold light begin to make themselves known as the stars are revealed by nightfall. Behind us in the woods, a sudden, twilight cry raises goosebumps, and it’s time to bid the beach farewell.

Don’t worry, dear, for the adventure’s not over yet.

This way…this way…another path, sinewed with roots – don’t trip – they look almost alive and moving in the torchlight, don’t they?

Here – can you see the glow ahead? That’s where we’re going – the final piece of magic for our time of sanctuary in this place: treehouses, strung with fairy lights and packed to the walls with soft blankets, lanterns and pillows enough to cushion every weary inch. There will be lullabies sung by owls, laughter which sends small creatures scurrying back into the undergrowth, books on packed shelves to browse if we wish, and conversation which gets deeper and more disjointed as time slows down, loses all meaning and becomes irrelevant – the world shrinking to the size of the brightly-lit, cosy space we inhabit.

Treehouses by Peter Bahouth, via Colossal.com

And finally sleep, nestled warmly in perfect contentment, with unseen foxes keeping vigil in the forest, and that deep, abiding peace which comes with getting away from it all. Perhaps we’ll dream of flying or the perfect Other. Maybe the stories which unfold in our subconscious will be infused with the magic of the afternoon; full of castles and shining skies and the sea captured in perpetual motion inside a shell. Or simply of morning, when we can wake to crisp, bright light, stretch luxuriously, and know that after coffee and fresh fruit, there lies the promise of another, perfect, sun-drenched day…

I hope you love it.

 

[Inspired by Mandi, who wanted someplace to run away to]

 

 

 

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44 thoughts on “Sanctuary

  1. how did I miss this … a perfect time to reflect, rest and rejuvenate….often times when I get to work hubby asks me text him when I get there – so I text him “made it to the beach house- going to watch the waves a bit while I drink my coffee, then I will write later” just a tiny little fantasy, ( I say as I giggle sheepishly )

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  2. Beautiful images…I was in one of my own special places as I read, walking down the wooded path of Clayhead trail on Block Island, RI. As you venture forward, you begin to hear the sea, and yes, like your post, over the reed filled dunes, suddenly you encounter the sea. Thanks for taking me back.

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    • Now that sounds utterly beautiful 🙂 I wish I could see it.

      I kind of amalgamated all of my favourite places and imaginings of perfect beaches and woods for this piece, and I rather love the result 🙂 And I’m so glad it triggered wonderful memories for you.

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  3. Pingback: Ten Things of Thankful #62 | Considerings

    • I think you’re right – we respond very deeply to the beauty in nature. Perhaps it takes us back to a different time, when the world was more connected – before it got totally messed up 🙂

      Glad you enjoyed this. Thanks for letting me know 🙂

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  4. I love it. All of it. I can’t even pick a favorite part. Actually I can, the company. That’s my favorite part. Thanks for this. Today I want to runaway less, but if I did/could, I’d want to go here…with you.

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  5. Years ago I took a meditation course and part of what we did was develop a personal “sanctuary” (to use your word) that we would picture as we entered into the meditation. It was so cool to have an imaginary yet real place to “go” to meditate. The place became so vivid – I can still get to it anytime I want – and it still fascinates me how permanently it’s lodged there in my mind.
    And all of this, by the way, is why we head so often to our mountain to hike. Totally like that. 😀

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    • I get that. That’s why I go to my beach…a place for the soul to breathe for a short while.

      I never tried meditation. Honestly I don’t see the point – if it’s for escapism I’d rather be reading; if for untangling thoughts, I’d rather be writing. And I can’t quite see any other point – though I’d love to hear your take on it – have you written about it?

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      • Hmm, well, I definitely think it is different for all people – and not for all people, either. I think more often than not, the word “meditation” is loosely and incorrectly used. My understanding of it has always been for clarity, peace,and focus. It’s about focusing inward, stilling the mind, removing distractions. Difficult to do in a world where we are so programmed to observe and interpret what we see externally.
        I guess for me it dates back to my years of martial arts study – goes hand in hand with the training. Meditation helps remove the fear of a combat situation, for example, by placing the mind in a state where it isn’t reacting to the situation, but from a place of clarity that is removed from the situation – practicing that meditative state is how you remain calm in the face of actual danger. But I digress.
        Take it out of that specific scenario and transfer to any other – it can help bring about a point of non-reactive and unemotional objectivity about a bad situation – like a job that is no longer a good fit, and so on.
        I suppose some people do it in different ways – through writing, for example, or exercise or whatever. I often find myself able to reach that place when I’m in my kitchen – provided that I’m not cooking for a dinner party with a crowd present or supervising Kidizlla’s measurements, for example!
        Have I written about it…hmm, yes, but not writing that is “out there” at this point. I do talk about it in the book I’m working on, but that’s still in various stages of development.

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        • Okay cool, well that’s a great overview. I read a piece yesterday by Sarah at the Left Brain Buddha, about mindfulness, and she said a lot of the same things you did – about being aware of the situation and your responses, whilst not actually tapping into those emotional responses to manage the situation. Meditation sounds kind of like a one-up from mindfulness, in that sense.

          I’m good at being ‘in my head’ – I can sit for a long time without input, and just ‘be’, but I realise that’s a slightly different thing.

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    • I want that treehouse too – SO MUCH! It was a fascinating article on Colossal – apparently the guy just built them in his backyard (which is the Atlanta forest, or something). And no – I’ve seen no shows…no tv, remember? :p

      I would LOVE to live in a tree-house, but the first floor isn’t a bad deal. I still *feel* ‘up’.

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