If you stand in the bridge, you wouldn’t be able to see it. You have to walk south, by the great way. It’s a rather short walk. On the left bank, you will see a beautiful meadow plagued with trees that are not tall or especially beautiful. However, if you walk across the meadow, close to a wall that limits the growth of plants, you will see a small hill and three trees on top of it. The one with the straightest trunk, clean leaves, and no roots on sight, is the one I want to tell you about.
Beneath that tree, a friend of mine was buried a long time ago. He was not especially strong or fit or brave. He was not particularly remarkable in any way. He was just my friend and that is the reason why that tree is so special to me. I’ve been there many times, at night and during the day, a few minutes and also several hours. And every single time I visit that place, I talk to my friend. Sometimes there is nothing to say, other times it’s different. It changes, as life happens to be.
I like that meadow because the sunset look gorgeous from it, the golden rays from the sun seem to be touching your body in such a magical way. Even when it rains, the green field looks as if it had escaped a book of fantastical stories. It’s the kind of place where, in stories, ladies and lords encounter beautiful white unicorns and heroes lift a sword out of a stone. I wonder if thing like that have actually happened there but maybe it’s best not to know for certain and just imagine.
It feels good to be there, laying on the grass and just hearing the wind caressing the greenery. Flowers are scarce but when you find one, it is sure to be one of the most beautiful botanical being your eyes have ever seen. So many colors and such beautiful designs. They make you realize how perfect nature is and how intricate life can be in order to create things that have apparently little to no value. That’s how simpleminded and stupid humans are, because we just do not understand.
I’m not saying I do understand but, when I’m there, I do feel different than usual. Sometimes I feel my muscles are stronger than ever and some other times I feel it is my mind that has grown one full size, in intellectual terms. I have attributed this particular feeling to the fact that my friend is there, beneath the tree or maybe inside of it. I have a special connection with that place, that goes far beyond it’s location or the many ways the sun touches the leaves and the rain flows down the small hills. It’s just something that I will never be able to understand or explain.
I never go to two of my favorite places at once but I do have another natural space where I like to relax my aching bones. It’s a prairie, many hours away by walking from the meadow. It’s on the outskirts of civilization and maybe that’s the reason why it feels so special. It might also be the fact that many great people died there a long time ago and the place became a graveyard, although not on purpose. There’s not a sign labeling it as such and there are not tombstones to read.
You feel the presence of thousands of soul when you enter the prairie. That one, different from the meadow, is filled with flowers all over. As trees are scarce, flowers grow on the ground, big as the fists of a mighty warrior. The colors are unimaginable if one has never been there and the sound of many birds creates a wall of sound that no scream or weapon can pierce. It is very beautiful but it can also be a little bit too much, if the person doesn’t know how to handle it.
I’ve gone there for many years, from a very young age. Family members were buried there for generations and I feel that my body will also lay beneath the many flowers of the prairie. It’s not a nice thought on my head, but it comforts me that, at the very least, my final resting place could be that beautiful place full of all many of the things that people in other places don’t really have anymore. Birds and flowers are considered wild nowadays and people don’t like that too much.
There are no hills, no real elevations on that never-ending prairie. There’s just a road on one side and a road on the other. The rest is grass and flowers and birds’ songs. Nothing much besides that. I relax on the meadow but not on the prairie. The prairie makes me think too much sometimes, about my own mortality and about the many things I have yet to do in this life. It makes me feels I have little time, which is true, but I suddenly hear the clock ticking and it’s unbearable.
When I go, I only stay for a couple of hours and then leave without a prayer or a word. I don’t talk to anyone there, even if a good part of my family’s bones has fed the flowers that live there. I don’t feel comfortable or happy there. But I don’t feel sad or persecuted. It’s just a very strange feeling of not being quite there somehow… I don’t understand it and I just go there when I feel I need to pay my respects, which happens when I take the road north in order to get home after several days of hard labor. I go because I have to, in a certain way, not because I want to.
My final spot is not very far from home. I live in a beautiful mountain, which oversees the most amazing green valley you have ever seen. Only a small amount of farms break a beautiful natural landscape. The sound of the stream is the one that always tells me I’m only a few minutes away from seeing the faces of my family. When I pass the rushing waters, I can almost feel their skin on my hands, their perfume on my noise and their happy laughs on my ears. It really is home.
When I’m there, I often take my family to the other side of the mountain. It’s a bit colder and rockier than the place we live in but somehow I really like it. It happens to be the border that separates our country, if one can call it that, from the rest of the world. Beyond the rocks, you can only see the tallest and greenest trees in existence. They make a kind of fabric that extends for several kilometers and then some more. Water can be heard but not seen and animals are the only ones populating it.
There are no roads that cross it. No one really dares to go through the maze that is the forest. Some daring neighbors love to go there in the summer to pick up grapes, the wild kind, that grow on the outskirts. The yare very sweet and have a beautiful purple color and kind smell. However, wolves have been known to attack people that stay there for too long. It is not a place for humans to thrive. But it’s nice to look at all those leaves from above, while having a warm drink.
I enjoy the view alone or with my family. We spread mother’s ashes there some three years ago and I still remember how the wind carried the dust the deepest parts of the forest. I stayed there, waiting for the cloud that was my mother to fall on top of the trees but the wind kept on carrying it away, farther and farther away from everything that woman had ever known. It made me think about her and about every single person I had ever met that was not in this world anymore.
Those are my favorite places on this Earth. They are so different the one from the other but they do share the fact that I feel my people on them, I feel their hearts and minds and, certainly, they souls. They guide me still in this wretched world.
I know I will become one of them someday. It might be today or tomorrow or in several years. But I know it will happen. In a very strange way, it calms me to know that they are going to be there, on the other side. And I will still be able to visit all my favorite spots.