The wind in the trees brought a low level sense of awe. It is stated that during the time of Samhein, the veil between this world and the next is at its thinnest. Perhaps, I think to myself, what I am feeling is universal. At no other time of the year does the night have this feel, this look, this smell. Leaves in competition, turning their colors from green to shades of red and yellow chime a unique sound. In unison as the wind moves them to dance, they appear as individuals, seeking to be heard during these last days and nights before they fall to the ground and continue our shared cycle of life to death.
My breath is lodged between my chest and belly and I consciously seek to move it, to regulate it, to seek its natural rhythm. Chi is scattered and the mind must direct it. I cannot see the ground under my feet and focus my eyes several feet ahead letting my peripheral vision fulfill its purpose. Reaching the crest of the barren hill I rest alongside the only tree left standing. A tall and leaveless American Elm. The Dutch Elm disease, a fungus that first began to kill these magnificiant trees in the thirties, left only a few trees still standing, like dying warriors, weathered and grey. During the course of the year, very few leaves sprout as they once did. Their colors often fade from green to brown. There is no celebration of color. No leaves to express themselves in the autumn wind.
On calm nights, I breath and direct chi down through the crown of my head, along my arm and into the trees. The tree does the same. We share of ourselves that which is beyond words but we know what it is. We are friends, that old tree and me. The day is not too distant when it will be cut down, its limbs brittle and its bark dry and withered. So I make sure to let it know that it is not forgotten. Nor its family. I bow in respect and have on occasion shed a tear in rememberance of these graceful giants that once lined every street and back road.
There are Elm Streets that now know no Elms. As a kid I walked knee deep through their colorful leaves. No more. No more.