I worked my way around the small pond, pushing the willow branches into the soft, damp earth along the margins. The world around me had fallen silent-- muffled, perhaps, by the dew already settling on the grass. The stars shone clear high above, the silky wash of the Milky Way spanning the velvet dark; and as I finished up, my eye was caught by a sudden light to the east. It was the moon, heaving its luminous bulk over the horizon like a revelation. It hung there, unreasonably still, as if this waning gibbous moon longed to remain, to hold on to what light it had left. But incrementally, it lifted over the trees, accepting its nature and the changes of time.
Soon my backpack full of fresh branches was emptied, and I took to roaming the night, glorying in what I had done, ignoring roads and property lines as I strode across the soaking fields and lawns. Boundaries of all kinds were falling away. All my usual reference points were gone, swallowed by the dark maw of night, and elation surged in me, my awareness sharpened, expanding laterally. The world dissolved into a mysterious enormity which I drifted through, a singular point of perception made whole, and joining with the rest, as much as my feet were soaking in the chilly wetness, and my lungs the misty air.
Something had transformed the trees. Trees that, by day, seemed isolated and dwarfed by the spaciousness of these open fields, a place that was, in fact, former forest, long ago bulldozed. Now, under the cover of night, they rose up before me, looming against the moonlight, phantom spirits of the forest this land, in its hidden heart, even yet remains, though long held down by the mowers.
They seemed to rise, physical manifestations of the very night itself, the growing soul of darkness itself. But not darkness in any evil sense, no-- dark only in the way of things unknown, unfathomed, but very much alive. One pine, as I wandered free over those fields, seemed itself to walk towards me, though of course it was I who, by no design of mine, was steering straight for it. A large, two-trunked pine, feathering dark branches out against the star littered sky, each needle singular in its existence, glistening in the moon. It was a silhouette of pure presence.
It seemed to hold a quiet wisdom, a strong sense of knowing, and as I drew nearer, even seemed to hold the moon itself between the tongs of its split trunk. A living memory, random remnant from a bulldozed wood, survivor of wild storms and man alike, standing quite alone in a vast sea of undeveloped property. This tree remembered a different owner, and this, I knew then, in a way I cannot quite recapture now, was the tree-lord of this patch of ground, one of the sovereign sentinels who wait, wait... wait for the day the mowers come no more, ready to tend a fresh growth of seedlings, the someday lords of a forest yet to be.