Where the Skylark Sang

Silhouette of tree with sinuous branches against a green woodland background
“Where the Skylark Sang”, 8in x 8in, acrylic on canvas

This part of the forest we did not know.

“Worse,” you said, “it doesn’t know us.”

Thickets that grew in prickly masses to keep outsiders away huddled together to block our approach. We found a path intended for deer, but it was reluctant to make our way easy, scraping long thorns against us and urging us back.

We refused to give up, and pushed through the tangled growth. We would not be stopped by shrubbery. Soon the bushes thinned out and lost interest in us, leaving us to pursue our mission.

As we walked along, the wind above whistled through the trees. You liked the ornate harmonies; I found it a bit too baroque. A smoother tune would better match the guarded mood of these woods.

“What are you humming?”

“Something in B minor,” I said. “Better than that leaf-rustling noise those hippie kids call music.”

You shook your head, but you knew I was right.

We finally got to the place where somebody’s distant cousin’s grandfather had planted a seed in honor of another cousin’s late grandmother — or was it great-grandmother? We had left their family chart tucked in a dusty journal and were hazy about the story that brought us out of doors that day.

All we had was a pencil-drawn map. And here stood the tree grown from the seed.

On the second branch up, third twig from the left, a bird perched and marked us with piercing eye, then launched into its speech. This tune I found more pleasing, and I knew the genre.

“It’s a skylark telling its tale.”

“No skylarks live here.”

“Then it must be far from home, perhaps across the sea. Would it have news from there?”

You stepped closer to inquire. “How are things in Glocca Morra?” Good question, I thought. 

The bird cocked its head, twittered a scathing retort, then rudely flew off to broadcast in a less peopled spot. 

Well. Not a fan of musicals it seems.

“Here stands the tree,” I announced, needlessly.

“Is it what we expected? Or more?”

I cleared my throat. “The sinuous motif of branches exhibits a playful style reminiscent of—”

“Oh, stop.” You smiled. “It’s pretty enough.”

Yes. The seed, the soil, the rain, the sun — all had done their work with skill. Such is the perfection of nature, which crafts a tree for our enjoyment on an afternoon.

We gave silent thanks to someone’s distant relative as we lingered under the generous shade.

But I was still bothered by what the bird had said.