I wasn’t expectIng it at all. I was just finding my way around La Luna in Puglia, Italy. I was finding the boundaries of the place, and looking for the landmarks–the amphitheater, the labyrinth–trying to feel at home. We had only just arrived. There I was, stepping carefully through some rough grass, when you called to me.
I wasn’t thinking about trees, about having a conversation with trees–that was a project I had left behind. I was here to learn clowning, not as a nature writer.
But I would swear you called me. I stood still for a moment, paused in my careful stepping, looked up from the ground beneath my feet, and there you were. Just one among so many ancient olive trees, but it was you who caught my attention. I felt you summon me. I was drawn, over the broken down stone wall, across the dirt track, straight to the hollow in your trunk where, at some time now long past, a large limb, maybe half your trunk, had fractured away. Around the wound your bark had curved over as if to protect the hurt, but still leaving your heartwood exposed and rotting. But a new trunk, or maybe a whole new tree, was growing healthily to one side
I put my hand on your bark and you were warm, dare I say welcoming to my touch. I walked around you, looking at the rough and scaly texture of your bark, at the hole left, I assumed, by branches that broke off.
But then I am not really sure how to be with you anymore. I drifted away from the present moment, thinking of how I might find words to describe this meeting, about how I might visit you regularly through the week I am here. After the immediate joy of meeting I felt rather empty; as if once you had called and we had introduced ourselves, neither of us were sure what to say next.