Inspired by the sight of one of those cool old trees that grow in the middle of nowhere and a prompt from a friend. I put the prompt down at the bottom.
Long Grasses and Rare Trees
There isn't really much that I can do about what has happened, but I am still somewhat irked. I had wanted to go with, but with so much happening the day before, I had not gotten around to voicing my opinion. And so when I finally drifted into the realm of wakefulness, not ten minutes ago, I had turned over on my bedroll to find that you had already left.
I shuffle my feet in the long grass and grumble about how you always manage to get up so early. It is not a bad thing. I kind of like having you get up before me. It makes it so much easier when I get up and find breakfast or a pot of fresh tea waiting for me; sometimes you will be sitting there across the fire from me with that weird grin that I can never figure out.
For the longest time we have followed a somewhat regular schedule. You get up, have a quick breakfast, stretch, and then take off for your morning run. Every once in a while you wait until I wake up so that you and I can share breakfast together. But, most mornings, I wake up to find that you have already left.
Waking up alone is not an issue; I love the peaceful sounds of the birds singing as they greet the day. But, lately, I am starting to feel a little differently. I want to go with you on your run. I want to share in your joy.
Not today, however. Today, I have to settle for the other little routine that we have somehow developed during our wanderings. You go off for a run and I try and find your path. It is somewhat of a hobby, I guess, to find the small hints and tiny signs that point to your location.
Today is no different. I will look for the trail and then try my best to follow it to wherever you have gone. I have a feeling, though, that I will find you quickly on this fine sunny morning; for there are several things on my side.
Since our latest travels have brought us out into the middle of a wide prairie, with long waving grasses and the rare tree, those long grasses and rare trees are the things on my side. The grass shows clearly which direction you have taken from our little campsite, near a tiny stream, and a lonely tree in the near distance speaks of a possible point of interest on your run.
I finish off the last of the tea that you left behind for me and then set off down the clearly visible trail. It is obvious that you have gone this way. The grass is bent in a consistent pattern and the change in direction causes the dramatically curved blades to shine a lighter shade of gold in the strengthening sunlight. I cannot ask for a clearer path to follow.
It is not long before I find myself at the base of a huge oak that had taken root uncounted years before. Its limbs spread out wide and far, covering a massive area and shrouding it in welcome shadow. I stop beneath the lowest bough and only steps away from the impressive girth of the main trunk. After a moment of admiration, worthy of such a tree, I peer around and notice that the trail I had been following does not go any further than this tree. You stopped here. Since I do not see you, I am left with only one other option. I lean my head back and peer upwards.
It doesn't surprise me that I cannot see anything except strong branches and lazily waving leaves. When you climb a tree, you always find a way to keep yourself from view. I had asked how, once, and only earned myself an impish grin and guarded eyes. I had known, then and there, that you would not reveal your secret. It was also then that I knew that you would use your mysterious talent against me one day.
"Do I need to come up or are you going to come down?" I call up into the branches above.
There is a long moment of silence before your voice finally floats down to me.
"I think you need to come up."
I look around at the options that are open. There aren't very many. The best choice available is to just grab the nearest branch and haul myself up. I shrug and let out a sigh. Nothing else can be done.
My fingers find a good grip on the rough bark and I heave myself upwards, quickly bending at my waist and wrapping my legs around the branch. Moments later I manage to twist my way up onto the branch and reach for the next one in line. The whole process is repeated several times until I suddenly find myself just underneath your dangling boots. I flick the bottom of one worn sole and smile at your exclamation of protest as I settle down onto the branch that I am standing on. I lean back against the main trunk and peer out along the length of my perch. The view is spectacular.
Beyond the patches of leaves and forking branchlets is the wide expanse of grass. The currents of the wind caught and held in the bending and waving blades, shifting them in endless waves and ripples. The whole prairie seems to shimmer under the sun, giving the impression of a sea of gold that has melted under the heat of the coming afternoon.
"Beautiful, isn't it?" I hear you say above me.
I nod silently, even though I know you can't see.
"I wanted to go with you this morning."
A soft chuckle is heard. "Sorry. I didn't know."
"Not that I can ever keep up with you," I say. "You always leave me choking on your dust, even though we are supposed to be running together."
"Is it my fault that you don't keep in shape?"
I swat at your ankle and you laugh.
"Some people aren't built to be runners," I say. "I just happen to be one of them."
You shift on the branch and several leaves flutter down around me, a sure sign that the full strength of autumn is not far off. I am actually surprised at the heat of the day; normally it is cooler around this time. The few trees that we had come across over the last few days had already begun to show color. This tree is no different. Soon the ground will be covered in dry dead leaves and the branches above will be cold and barren; ready to take on the biting chill of the coming winter.
"I wish it would storm," you say after a moment, breaking me out of my thoughts.
I snort in derision. "Only you would say that while we are sitting in the only tree for miles around."
"I don't mean right now."
"It sure didn't sound that way."
"If you're going to be that way, then I do wish it would storm right now. Then I would be rid of you."
"If lightning strikes this tree, it will hit you first. In fact, it might not even touch me."
"It doesn't matter who it hits," you grumble, though I can hear the smirk in your voice, "either way I will be free of your pestering."
"Is that why you go for a run every morning?"
"So, you do still like me then?"
"No, you snore all night long. I go for a run every morning to keep myself from strangling you outright."
I grab one of your booted feet and give it a firm tug. Your startled shriek brings a smile of victory to my lips.
"Do that again and I won't go on my run tomorrow morning. I will, instead, choose the more preferable option."
My smile progresses quickly into all out laughter, my giggles shaking the branch beneath me and sending more leaves tumbling to the ground below. My glee is quickly cut off, though, as an acorn bounces smartly off the center of my forehead.
"Ouch," I say as I rub the offending spot. "How in the world did you manage to hit me from up there?"
"I'll never tell," you say as you draw your feet up and out of my reach.
"Fine, keep your secrets."
You shift your position to better accommodate your crossed legs.
"Do you want to go with me?"
I sputter in confusion at the sudden change in conversation. "Go where?"
"On my run. Tomorrow morning."
We sit and look out over the view for a few quiet moments and then I decide that I need to ask something that had popped into my mind when I had first approached the base of the tree.
"Why this tree?"
You hum a question mark and I frown for a moment as I think about how to word my next question.
"You normally go quite far on your morning run. I thought that this tree would just be a waypoint on your run. You have run past every other tree we have already come across. Why did you stop at this one?"
"I guess it's because I see something different every day."
"What do you mean?"
"Each time I go for a run, lately, I see something new; even when the scenery is pretty much the same thing day after day. Like it is here. Today I just felt like I had to climb this tree and see what the view was like from up here. I guess I have just started to notice the little things. Like the flocks of little birds, hundreds of them, all bouncing across the tops of the grass and eating the seeds. The smell of the changing weather. The fuzzy tops of the grass and how they move in the wind."
"The fish in the stream by our camp."
"You noticed them too?"
You sigh heavily and I see you slouch down tighter against the trunk of the tree. "How is it that we are always so surprised by things that we see every day? Why do we always see something different?"
I think about it for a long moment and hear you sigh once more. This one sounding like all of the troubles in the world are escaping in one breath, only to be replaced by that wonderful feeling that comes with the sudden realization of the peace around you. Finally, I decide on my answer.
"I suppose it is because there is too much to see all at once."
"True, very true."
Silence falls over us, a solid thing that hangs heavy, but not uncomfortable. Slowly we notice the other sounds that pervade the area. The soft swishing of the grass, the gentle ticking of the drying leaves tapping against each other, the birds singing and chirruping to each other. It is quiet and yet loud. A perfect blend of sound and peace.
You shatter the glorious harmony with a random question.
"Want to see who can climb to the top first?"
I shake my head in disbelief. "I think you already have the advantage. No thanks."
"Your loss," you say as you clamber to your feet and begin climbing.
I chuckle and go about making my way down to the ground once more. I am just about to drop down onto solid ground when a shower of acorns patters down around me, several of them striking the top of my head.
"Hey!" I shout up into the tree, unable to see you once again.
Laughter rings out from somewhere in the branches above and more acorns come raining down, accompanied by a goodly amount of brown shriveled leaves.
I crunch my way across the fallen leaves and scramble out from underneath the bombardment. You continue laughing as I shout about the acorns that have found their way down the back of my shirt.
I am soon able to rid myself of the invading acorns and I make my way back to camp, a smile still lingering on my face. You are definitely right. You do notice different things every day.
Like how your best friend is an absolute lunatic.
The prompt was, how is it that you can look at the same things and see something different so that all you can do is sit and stare at it all?