Looking and Seeing

[Back in September, I wrote about a day spent with Chudleigh Writers’ Circle in the garden of one of the members. Then it was all about the bigger picture, snapshots and the memories they invoked. This week’s snippet came from an exercise in looking at one particular spot.]


From a distance, we see the shape; it is short compared to its neighbours, the overshadowing firs. The trunk is dark and straight; its branches splay out in all directions — yes, that’s right — exactly like Sideshow Bob, although his hair is red and those branches are green.

 
Walk closer with me, but take care for the ground is uneven. From here, the trunk is shorter, overshadowed and overgrown by the branches. And most point downwards and out to the side. They remind me of that photo of water dropping into a puddle, the splashes frozen in time. And the colour is no longer uniform; splashes of paler green and red appear among the dark forest hue of the leaves.
 

And now, as we move closer still, standing at eye-level with the tree, the trunk is no more than a shadow, a dark impression coated in robes of jungle green and red, like legs glimpsed through summer skirts in sunlight. The branches now divide into a chorus line supporting just one star that, centre-stage, takes its bow before this eager audience. A spiky, shiny skirt on silver limbs gives way to apple gingham, reds and greens both pale and dark.
 
 
But wait, our vision blurs and jumps in fear as a striped defender inspects the visitors. Keep still and feel the merest touch, as the guard checks us out, decides we will not harm her tree, and flies off to other business.
 
 
And finally, we reach the centre-point, the mid-point, the whole point of this journey. We looked at a tree, but now we see instead a different shape, a different colour, a pale apple green and rosy blushing fruit that is the point of everything.

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By Elizabeth Ducie

Elizabeth Ducie was a successful international manufacturing consultant, when she decided to give it all up and start telling lies for a living instead.

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