Getting To The Elm

by Shoshana Ne'orah

Ne’orah took a deep breath and forged ahead, resuming her steady, drawn out hum to match the music of the raindrops and rustling leaves. The path was a carpet underneath her feet, made up of five-pointed maple leaves, crumbled pine cones, fallen brown elm leaves, and tiny blankets from the hickory trees. Blades of grass poked through, thirsting for each bead of water that fell through the branches’ grasps. She couldn’t pause to look around, but her eyes scanned the trail ahead, taking in the muted greens and hearty browns, plus the occasional dash of bright orange or purple where patches of flowers had sprouted up along the way. Her mind wandered to thoughts ignored…

Where was that river? I love how it flows. The rocks in the bed, and the way the water travels over and around each one, and it creates its own ridge, making the flow climb and drop. I wonder how far that fall feels to each molecule of H2O, or if water even feels at all. There’ve been so many experiments about the way that emotional energy effects water, even in another part of the world, if it’s directed at it. I can’t imagine water wouldn’t feel, and that my soul isn’t joined up with the water’s soul at all. I’d love to dip my ha—

Her thoughts were interrupted by buzzing wings close to her triple-pierced ear, and she turned her head sharply in time to see the green body and red head, with imperceptible wings, of a hummingbird flying alongside her. As it darted forward, she picked up her pace, determined to follow its lead. Each step a little more deliberate, she was ever the more thankful for the cushion the leaves provided, and acknowledged the impact she would now have on the forest floor. “Thank you, leaves, for your protection of my feet and the acceptance of your final disintegration in order to protect me,” she murmured, careful not to disturb her guide. The bird darted off to the right, towards a clearing. Should she keep going? She always went further up and took a fork to the left; this way was entirely unfamiliar, and a shadow of doubt creeped in. But she knew the bird was there to guide her another way, especially when it paused and looked back at her hesitation.

The rain had gotten to her curls, finally, and they hung limp and loose around her face and shoulders, creating small streams down her back. Her arms and legs were still protected by the material of her dress, the way only reverie cloth could keep the water at bay, but the rain had turned into a mist, and she walked slowly through sprinkles into shin-high grass and tiny yellow buttercups. The bird paused at a stump, lowered itself to indicate that she should sit, and spun in a circle as if to say goodbye before flitting off into the settling fog.

Why a stump? Because I’ve been stumped? I suppose that’s appropriate… I guess the mind does work in funny ways. I miss these days from childhood, when I had my two favorite tree stumps that were both playmate and thinking partners. A place to sun myself, and the table for my front yard picnics, until the carpenter ants got to them and Daddy said they had to go. I wonder if that’s why those crunchy creatures are phobia inducing to me? Maybe in part, although I guess there are so many reasons there. But what am I stumped about…?

 Excerpt from Getting to the Elm (Ne’orah Book 1).

German Jewish mom + Black Catholic dad = Shoshana Ne’orah: Biracial advocate, interracial & inter-religious family adviser, general race conversationalist. She blogs, speaks publicly, and runs classes for interracial families on socio-racial identity development (or, how to make sure your kids are secure in themselves without sacrificing your own identity). She’s also re-learning how to knit.

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