Cypress stories

cypress

I’ve had more to do with cypress pine trees than oaks, and more to do with our Australian native bushland than the English forests that dotted the landscapes of my Anglicised schoolbooks and encyclopaedia’s. As a child I wandered freely through the dry schlerophyll bushland and grassy paddocks that surrounded our ownerbuilt dwelling on the outskirts of town. But I learned to climb trees on the massive cypress pines which bordered the institution across the road from our family home and there too learned the sheltered privacies that the interior of pines afforded…

Do you ever think of the times we had that summer Gillian? How we perched in the upper branches of the cyprus hedge that bordered your parents drive, drinking chocolate milk, feeling vaguely horny and somehow pagan, exchanging minor confidences and innocently dreaming of lovers to come. It must have been the summer between primary and secondary school, because we went in different directions after that.
I sometimes used to see your elder brother at the local club when Mum and I went there. I did ask after you, but he was always more interested in telling me about himself than talking about you. I gathered you had married and had a couple of children. Were a great grandmother now, like me.

Only one of these things featured in our adolescent daydreams… We couldn’t see past that ultimate white clad goal. I know we talked for hours about how amazing it would be. But we didn’t really have any idea…
Its strange how some small things stick with you. One summer out of sixty four…

Fast forward forty years. I have rented a house for the summer in a rural town close to the border. I spend the time driving, exploring, making art and wandering through and photographing historic cemeteries. The house I have rented is stark and fairly charmless, but cheap and functional. There is no garden, just a row of established cypress pines hedging one boundary. Piles of bricks and old scrap metal litter the rear yard, meaning gum boots are a smart choice of casual footwear given that we are in brown snake country…

Seven days pass before I pick my way cautiously across the yard, art journal in hand, eyeing the piles of scrap with an artistically curious but reptile wary eye. The day is the coolest since I’ve arrived and I’m ready for an adventure close to home, the thought of driving anywhere is mildly exhausting. Country people think nothing of driving 200km’s for an outing and I’ve quickly adopted this practice. However historic towns and the dilapidated dwellings of the long dead hold no charm for me today.

After sketching some brick remains, and an old metal car spring, I scope the line of trees carefully looking for a way in. The ground along the tree line is pebbled with ironstone, short tufts of dried grass, and the odd rusted tin can. Finding a likely opening I scootch forward under a dry dusty bough into the interior. The trees have been planted far enough apart that there are small spaces where it is possible to stand and move cautiously around and under the intertwined branches. It is dim and airless and I feel my chest tighten as I inhale warm dust. Ahead a shaft of light illuminates the textured trunk turning the powdery grey to silver. My mythic sensibilities become activated even as my artists’ eye kicks in.  This is Red Riding Hood’s wood in miniature, an outlier of the Old Forest, a place for ancient creatures that scurry and touch and take nameless liberties of the flesh. My nipples tighten, I feel the hem of my dress caressing the tender space between knee and thigh. Lifting a booted foot carefully I straddle a low branch. The textured bark scrapes between my thighs as I shift my weight forward. I smell resinous odour and feel the stickiness of sap catching at, marking, my white cotton underwear…
Staring at the tree before me, shining in pale filtered light, I see a pathway opening up, leading me up, up into the branches.

 

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10 thoughts on “Cypress stories

    • Thanks Tabitha, that a lovely compliment coming from you!
      I wasn’t sure what folk would think given it was suggestive rather than erotic but a few folk have commented which is very reassuring!

      Like

  1. Beautiful writing. I particularly enjoyed reading about your friendship with Gillian./in fact I read this last night but was too tired to comment. I fell asleep and dreamed of my close childhood friend! x

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks Kayla it took me back in time. I’ve been going through old artworks at it just triggered that childhood memory as well as the one from when I did the drawing. I love private saves like this they always seem mysterious and full of possibilities

      Liked by 1 person

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