Strained reishi tincture and separated the mushrooms from alcohol. Now it’s bubbling in a pot of water, simmering down to add back to the tincture. Next door to it is usnea, gathered off blown down branches, the strewn strands are stewing in water for bottling with alcohol. These two plants. These two allies. These two teachers guide me and encourage me to move forward on the path I’m on, affirming that it is the one that’s rising to greet me and meet me as a hedgewalker. But wait, listen across the hedge, voices::
“I say, you’re rather short! How come you look taller?”
“Well, it’s like this, my parents loved pulling my legs. Frequently. My dad would hold on to one foot, my mom to the other, then one two three, they’d pull and pull! It didn’t make my legs grow any longer but all that pulling altered the energetic field around my limbs, stretching them into space further than physical legs ordinarily reach. I look taller because I am taller than the sum of my embodied legs, I carry myself with the totality of physical and energetic ‘leg’, which lengthens my stature and also allows me to travel greater distances than body bound legs afford . . . that’s how come you only notice my ‘height’ as matter when you stand beside me.”
“I say, give my legs a good pulling would you!”
“Sally are you quite sure you want to be taller than you already are? You might topple over if you stretch further . . . .”
“Well you aren’t toppling over are you?”
“True but I’ve had decades to walk around this way, but if you’re quite sure . . . .”
Molly pulls Sally’s outstretched legs. She pulls and pulls and pulls.
“Is it working?” Sally asks.
Molly looks her over and shakes her head.
“Well pull them harder then!”
There’s a crashing sound and then nothing. I peek over the brambles; the only thing I see is a doe with an apple in her mouth blinking at me. She chews and munches the red globe, swallowing it in a few crunches then she shifts and I see Baseer standing before me.
“So,” he says, “You heard Molly and Sally then?”
“I did, but they’ve vanished, poof, must have pulled the legs to enormous lengths and bounded away or something and now here you are.”
He flicks his tongue over his teeth and wiggles out a bit of apple stuck there.
“I was in a dungeon,” he says, “Got my self locked up nice and tight for a few nights, had to run around naked through the village to be noticed, after that it was simple enough for the villagers to haul me off, naked, drooling, sightless, to the tower where they threw me into the dungeon and locked me up right where I wanted to be after all I know my chances of blindfighting the beast aren’t the best . . . oh yes, there was a werewolf on the loose that was hunting me at the time. The dungeon’s thick stone, dug in too deep for him to tunnel in through metal and earth three feet thick, figured I’d be safe there until the full moon passed bearing the werewolf with it, so there I stayed until it didn’t suit me any longer. How about you? Ever been in a dungeon?”
“I have. It was a bathroom with white curtains and bright windows, a white door it had and a white tub. My grandfather locked me up in there. He caught me one day with a boy, we were showering together and he kept coming around and knocking and disturbing us. When I opened the door to ask him what he wanted, I was naked and he didn’t like it, so he waited until we were done showering and then he saw my friend leaving and flew into a fury, pushed me into the bathroom and locked me up! I was pretty ticked off to be shut up in there like that but after a while I heard noises from down below, two girls were chattering about starting a fire in a box of red hot coals. So I busted out of the window and left to see what they were doing instead of being shut away in the bathroom. Ran off naked as a newborn babe, the girls didn’t seem to mind it or notice . . . but I never met the boy again and that made me feel sad, he was tender and sweet, and I liked being with him . . . didn’t see my grandfather again either, can’t say I miss that continuous stream of interruptions . . . and yes, sometimes interruptions prevent some other thing from happening but sometimes they become too much and then they just get stuck in preventative abortive interruptive disruptive mode, so it’s a challenge finding balance between the two or even remaining free from getting stuck chasing after balance and other such distractions, or being in situations where people want to take one hostage and capture, keep captive, to begin with so as to repeatedly have to free oneself from a bathroom or a cave or a cellar and simply be with the tender moment under skin, at hand . . .”
“Hmm, sounds stifling,” he says, drawing an apple out from a pocket and biting into it.
“Here’s the thing Baseer . . . freedom is funny, after all how free is a person if they’re constantly avoiding capture, spending their time maneuvering around the possibility of imprisonment, arranging their life and managing everything to simply keep out of a dungeon? There’s a bird in that tulip tree right now, he’s not afraid of falling, he knows his wings work, that he can fly, so up he goes and perches a hundred feet high, the wind is blowing and if he does get blown away, he’ll open his wings glide where it carries him, that’s freedom, or a sense of it. So it is that now I come to this . . . what is a dungeon? It can be a bathroom, a lockbox, inside outside, a state of mind, how do you get there? Maybe you get yourself locked up on purpose, maybe you’re shoved in pushing and screaming, maybe you allow yourself to keep running away from people who you feel will force you to dungeonify yourself! But whether or not you stay there, physically or mentally, it’s up to you . . .maybe you fight your way out, maybe you climb out the window, maybe you stay in the place but you leave in other ways, there’s no point to any of it if you live in fear of being locked up, after all once you’re out, you know how to get out, so what’s the point of running from possible captors? That becomes your life when you do that! Instead, I’m sensing freedom is more of this:: you live, you breathe, you follow your heart, listen for the song inside that guides, your destiny comes and finds you, and along the way you may meet people who want to throw you into their dungeon, knowing this you don’t run screaming for the hills, you just listen and follow your compass knowing wherever it leads you are free and able to deal with it whether challenging or simple, it’s not even about the difficulty level, after a while you simply know you’re prepared, empowered, enabled to reckon with all of it, and sometimes it’s an opportunity or a blessing in disguise . . . but trust plays a huge role, is critical in developing the endurance and skill to be with or navigate the way the wind blows, where it blows you to, like that bird, like you knowing your eyes don’t work, you face your destiny accordingly, and that’s what I’m learning to do . . . I haven’t met my grandfather again, and I don’t miss him, but I’m not living my life in order to avoid him, I’m just living what feels deeply right, in here, to me, inside out, and should he appear on the path maybe I’ll pull his leg, maybe I’ll do a strip dance, maybe I’ll offer him a cup of reishi and usnea tea and chat with him for a while, there are numerous options available, picked freshly in the moment, from in here.”
I thump my chest and whoop loudly, pick up two birch sticks with turkey tails growing from them, tap them together, dance around Baseer. I hand him one stick and we tap them together, circling and whooping, he tosses the remains of his apple up in the air and catches it one handed as we careen wildly by he brambles. Above us the red winged blackbird sings, a woodpecker drums, the wind blows through the branches and fluffy bits of usnea land on our hair, and then the clouds roll in, thunder in the sky clapping, until finally it rains and I wonder whether there’ll be reishi this year.