All this winter, there's been one thing that's caught my eye every time I take Lily out for a walk. Trees bare of their summer leaves stand out in stark contrast with the clear blue of winter skies. The appearance of one covered root to crown in ivy is even more striking, but there's been something "off" in the appearance of the tree in our backyard.
What might be wrong with it has been bugging me for months, and I got the answer the other day.
Aside from roughly eighteen months early in my marriage, I've always lived in the country. Woodland, pastures, and fields have always been close by and an endless source of inspiration for me. I suppose it's part of why I've always been drawn toward the mythical as much as science fiction.
I used to go walking with my grandmother fairly often during the summer when I still lived with my parents. Our route would take us by a forested area owned by family, and we'd often hear critters moving within, sometimes following us. I couldn't resist staring up at the branches arching over the lane as we walked under them and watching the sunlight glinting through the leaves. As we walked by my uncle's hay fields, I'd look over a sea of it still green and ripening as the wind rippled through it.
I'd imagine the fields or woodlands stretched out to the horizon and myself traveling through them with a small rag-tag bunch on some quest or other.
Some years ago, several after we purchased our house, I began feeling the pull of the wooded areas stronger than I have since my teenage years. A nebulous sense of being pulled toward the treeline across the street and the feeling of eyes watching from the shadows creeps up and grows each fall and winter.
I know if there is anything watching me from those woods, it's a bird or small rodent. Perhaps a deer or raccoon or fox noticed me come out to check the mail from a spot near the treeline and stood stock still until I left again. Regardless, it was this sense that caused me to begin writing fantasy again, even just as flash fictions.
Because I've been out far more in the past months than I have in years, I've felt this sense even more strongly. I've struggled not to overload the flash fictions with Myth and Science universe stories as a result.
However, every walk, my attention kept returning to the tree in our back yard. There was something off about it, and my intuition kept screaming something was wrong.
We've been rather concerned about the clones the tree keeps sending up in our back yard. They've gotten far too close to our foundation and septic tank for comfort, so we finally called some tree services to see about cutting it down.
As it turns out, the tree is already in the process of dying because the decorative ivy that's been growing on it since well before we moved in is slowly starving it. That's what is behind the odd, grayed out look it has to it and possibly why its cloning efforts have become more aggressive in the past three or four years.
As we prepare to have it cut down, I can't help but picture Astrakane being cleared as grieving pixies move on, knowing their home is dying.
It's funny, isn't it, the impact tiny, everyday things can have on our imaginations.
A. B. England is a small business owner, mom of two, novelist, all around geek, and avid crafter. She loves mythology, fantasy, and all flavors of science fiction.
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