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30 Days with a Madrona - Day 3

It often mystifies me to wake up and find a mood has already overtaken me, as if it came during sleep, slipped in unawares past the guardians of nighttime. Today I woke up aching with a dull loneliness, almost as if part of my heart had been removed in a secret somnolent surgery and left in its place a vacant lot.

Dolly Parton dog hopped up on the bed just then. It was part of her ritual to listen for that right time to get the day going. She wrestled me to me feet. We have a new job these mornings: go to the madrona.

This journey with the madrona over 30 days is a pilgrimage to experience the tree and to experience me in it. What will happen to me in a daily ritual of connection for at least two hours with one tree? Already I am finding that when I close my eyes, often the image of the madrona appears. It will infiltrate my thoughts when I am away and I can feel a groundedness enter me.

My new tree friend, Arbutus menziesii (Pacific madrona) is a slow growing wonder of sensuousness, grace and power. She gets her name from modrono, (which means strawberry tree) as the trees’ bright red berries in the fall reminded the early Spanish explorers of a species that grows in the Mediterranean. It is found on the coast from Northern California to British Columbia. It craves the sun and will twist and twine and swoop in graceful arcs to get to its lover.

My ritual each day is to circle the tree to prepare to enter its domain. I bring it an offering of a flower, then lean against its trunk and do my six breaths practice (See blog - day 1). Three breaths cycling up from the earth into the tree and down to the earth and three more rising up from the earth through the tree into me and back down into the earth. I breathed all my loneliness into it and lay on the ground and looked up into its limbs to the sky.

This tree is a special creature. It is actually 13 trunks in one that rise out of a bowl. Is it a single tree or a community of sisters? I sat up and leaned my back against it and consented to feel all the loneliness inside me. I invited it to rise and have its way with me, allowing it to fill me. My job was to stay connected to the tree and breathe.

I felt these words inside me: In your rootedness is your true life. You are held. To be... be rooted…let the disconnected mind dissolve. Breathe into roots. Listen and breathe. Rooted in your body.

Can I say the madrona took the loneliness feelings from me? All I know is after some time I realized they were gone. Where did they go? Where had they originated from? Some primal sense of abandonment? Or childhood? I felt the grass with my hands. The limbs above were rich with the music of wind.

From behind the tree

came my first visitor since I began this quest three days ago. It was Julia and her dog soul Lilly. Julia immediately walked into the bowl and climbed up into one of the limbs hugging it as a friend she had missed. Julia in her past was an aerialist and I could hear her coo as she imagined the possibility of dancing among these limbs.

I’ll just say it: there is magic surrounding this tree, which is a bit well known in Port Townsend. I am hearing more and more stories of people’s experience with it. I saw it in how it enlivened Julia’s imagination as she lay amidst its limbs…this tree is a portal.

After Julia left and an hour after we arrived, as I walked away from the tree to reengage with the day, I noticed Dolly not with me. I turned. She was sitting before it like a Buddha dog. She was not ready to leave.

Tree Haiku – Day 3:

Madrona smooth skin

Touches loneliness I feel

Rise up, supported

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