The Green Man

[Written August 29th–sorry for typos/grammar, it’s kind of a thought spill]

Yesterday I took a walk. Not a very incredible thing, a walk. But things can happen.

At last week’s Pagan Meet-Up the idea of noticing was batted around. Notice the birds, notice nature, notice the patterns. And I do that in a broad scale, but sometimes I miss the trees for the forest.

Anyway, I went walking. In my favorite place. At twilight.

The shadows were cool, a sign of the impending shift, and cicadas whined high and loud. People were out and about, kids escaping homework and adults desperate to hang on to the fading summer. I walked into the park and passed the bridge. The bridge is a short wooden plank bridge over a drainage ditch, but it connects the civilized, structure-oriented part of the park to the area filled with overgrown hedges and twisting streams.

I nodded a brief hello to Niana, the water spirit, and kept on. As I followed the path into the back section of the trail I noticed, for really the first time, how wild this part of the park is. The hedges are tall and dense and so very green. Honeysuckle and cudzu draped across holly bushes and vitex trees. Young oaks stood sentinel, about a hundred of them in columns four deep. As I rounded the keyhole turnabout I saw that someone had taken an informal rock dike and constructed small pillars every six inches or so. It was unexpected and completely magical. It took an already liminal space and made it completely other.

I paused to appreciate the site–a small half circle of standing stones casting long twilight shadows when I noticed the hedge beyond the dry stream bed.

I noticed, first, that somehow–maybe the way the sun hit some leaves in the green layer behind?–that there were golden eyes and a golden mouth in the hedge. Forming a face that looked like…depending on the way I squinted…either a man, a bird, or a deer. Then beside the face was a tunnel through the hedge. You know how in the movies the tunnels look short but are really long? I got the distinct feeling that if I crossed the stream and went into that hedge there was…something there.  And that if I just discarded my reservations and walked to the hedge, walked across the grass and across the stream bed, that there would be…I don’t know. A knowing.

I took a step off the path. And then another.

I paused. Looking to my left I saw that further back down the path a group of walkers. I thought about a reported assault last year. I got scared.

I backed away. I walked further down and then thought, what the hell, and crossed into the grass and over the stream bed. I said some pretty words, and turned around to cross the stream bed and…

Fell. Twisted my ankle. In front of several walkers.

I don’t embarrass very easily, but I kind of got the message.