Portal to the Past

This piece was inspired by my coming upon the historic tree that used to mark the entrance to the old shortcut. The tree is no less  majestic and impressive, despite the overgrown foliage and unkempt appearance of the surroundings. But seeing the blooming Lilies of the Valley and  the still-discernible path leading around the tree, made me hopeful. I must admit, the rediscovery and the flood of images that ensued, brought a tear to my eye, as I remembered a more innocent time.

Trifecta blog banner3 current

Written in response to the Trifecta Challenge:
PEDANTIC (adjective)
1 : of, relating to, or being a pedant(see pedant)
2 : narrowly, stodgily, and often ostentatiously learned
3 : unimaginative, pedestrian

Portal to the Past
Portal to the Past



I’ve witnessed much.

Days, months, years and decade of schoolboys have sought shelter under my aged limbs; my undergrowth trodden by hordes of children, shortcutting their way to school. Like me, they’ve grown. Unlike me, they’ve moved on; some to far-flung shores, others to pedestrian professions in urban metropolises.

Only a few return. When they do, they might not take notice of me. Most often, the re-visitors ignore me (their once-precious portal to a secret shortcut through the woods).  I’m nearly unrecognizable, overgrown with spindly pin oaks, sinewy vines and wild Lilies of the Valley.  Yet,  here I stand;  waiting, watching, wrestling with nature and withering, little by little.

Today, Bobby returned again, this time with a small child in tow, his hand held firmly but gently by Grandpa. Bobby remembers.  He visits daily on his way to Brightwood Park, and he always pauses ‘neath my drooping branches, negotiating carefully, the root-cracked sidewalk. He’s brought his grandsons with him before.  Today, he strains as if eavesdropping on an alternate reality, filled with long-distant laughter of children.  He remembers and longs for the days of romping uninhibitedly over the path that he and his gang of ten-year olds trampled each day.

But that was a simpler time.  Sadly, today the notion of a shortcut through the woods, is perceived to be merely a pedantic predilection of the geriatric set. Today, Bobby holds his grandson’s hand tenderly, protectively, as if to shield him from the demons that could be hiding in the lonely, overgrown woods; but remembering a simpler, more innocent time when a young boy could dash to school through these forested acres, unescorted by safe-keepers, and free to explore the world that he would soon inherit.

Tears? No, it’s just a few droplets of oozing sap. Bobby still remembers, and he is eager to share the secret with a wide-eyed, receptive, imaginative young boy, his grandson.

Today, I am less sad.

Today, I smile.


16 Comments on “Portal to the Past

  1. I imagine if trees could express emotion, similar feelings would be shared with many trees across the country. Times have changed (and are constantly changing.)


  2. Shortcuts through woods are the best! I still would take them over a sidewalk any day (:


  3. I remember tromping through the woods as a child. I still take walks with my dogs in forested area. I often look at very old trees and think about the tales they could tell. I really enjoyed this piece.


    • So do I..we love near a green acres site, and the grandsons are always thrilled to go into Brightwood Park, finding secret paths and trying to meet up at the lake. Of course we split up in teams, with one adult per group of kids. On the return trip we take different routes and meet at the bottom of the reconverging trails. The trails are narrow and overgrown, but clearly they are footpaths to be followed. Thanks for commenting.


  4. Love it. I live among redwoods that are centuries old. I can’t tell you how often I consider these things.. how much these trees have seen. I drag everyone who visits to a particular park where the fallen trees, bearing their rings, are labeled by years and what event in history they witnessed. Some of my best friends are trees.


    • One can only imagine…and especially the redwoods…I’ll never forget my vista to Muir Woods years ago. It was like the first time I went to Europe and realized how ancient some places are. Even in a relatively young America, our trees have borne witness to our non-recorded history.


  5. Joanne, this is a lovely, pastoral piece with a unique PoV. Interesting that Bobby is now a grandfather, as if only the location and the tree remember he once was a little boy. Also really, really liked the ‘waiting, watching…withering’ line. So nicely done!


    • Thanks, and grandfather Bobby has seen much too. Walking by the woods and in the woods gives one time for reflection. It’s nice to think that the tree has a memory. Also that Bobby is passing the love of listening to nature on to his grandchildren, during such teachable moments.


  6. Reblogged this on The Cheese Whines and commented:
    I wish that I still lived close to woods that I could take a shortcut through, and that I wouldn’t fear not what but WHO might be hiding in shadow with intent to harm.


    • Yes, I agree…these day when I go into the woods I am sure my cell phone is fully charged, and I’m usually on the lookout for other lone wanderers. I guess you’d call it being cautious. But the grand kids are never out of sight. Thank you!


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