All right, I'll admit it, here's one of my secrets: I have a special, very feminine tree that I like to hug. It comforts me to tuck my head against her tree belly, and look up and down the coast, peeking out at the world as if from behind Mama, holding onto her skirts.
This small oak grows on the point below below us, on a finger of land forming the side of one of Partington's many small canyons. She's been festooned with prayer flags and slightly pruned for a nice trim shape. She's witnessed the words of lovers, sheltered sunset watchers, and been the subject of many mystical landscape paintings.
Big Sur's mountain ridges spread away from her to the north and south, her backdrop is the ever-changing ocean and sky. From under her branches, I feel a frisson of vertigo, as if I was a red-tailed hawk swooping down towards the sea.
Probably the most interesting (and most often commented on) aspect of the Wedding Tree is that if you look at her with soft eyes, she is in fact a woman, her torso plunged into the land, legs reaching up into the air. She has an upside down "muffin top" and a serious belly button. The question, as my painter friend wondered, is whether she is diving down into the earth, or jumping up out of it.
Maybe she's doing handsprings, leaping from ridge to ridge over the ages, or maybe she's an Esalen tribal princess, transformed into an oak in some ancient, indigenous fairy tale. Either way, she is our Tree Goddess.
One morning last week I woke up like the rest of the world: after listening to city sounds in my bed, I drank a cup of coffee, walked out onto the street, got in my car and drove to an office building, where I talked about the business world all day.
How blessed I felt when the very next morning, wearing only my bathrobe, cowboy hat and sturdy shoes, playing pied piper to my three eccentric cats (who go on walks with us) I began my day leaning against the Wedding Tree's warm tummy and soaking up the strength of her primeval thighs.