A novel for all ages - $15.95 (Borealis Press, 2003)
The big old maple in our forest is now called Julia's tree. Even though Julia is a fictional character, her spirit seems to inhabit the area around the tree. When I take people to meet the tree, I usually just stop on the path and wait to see if they will recognize him. So far, no one has failed to do so and no one has failed to receive a message from him. Where do these messages come from? From the spirit of the tree or from deep within our own consciousness - or does it really matter?
From Julia, Chapter 1, "The Tree"
With the coming of spring, Julia began spending more time near the tree. She watched as the buds began to open and the pale gold maple blossoms formed, followed by the opening of the first tiny leaves. By the end of May, the leaves were full and deep green. One day in mid June, when the sun was hot, Julia came to the tree looking for a shady place to sit and read. The ground under the wide branches was soft with a cushion of dead leaves and ferns.
She sat down and leaned back against the trunk and opened her book. She read a few pages and then started feeling sleepy from the warm air. She closed her eyes and let the book slip from her lap. Her mind drifted into a vague dream about huge green leaves blowing in a gentle breeze. She was lying on one of these leaves like a baby in a cradle, rocking back and forth in the sunlight. Back and forth, back and forth - the shadows of the leaves above her slid across her face. It was so peaceful. She started to slip into a deeper sleep when suddenly, she heard a voice whispering close in her ear - "It's time to wake up now."
Julia sat up with a start, her heart beating wildly. She looked around at the forest. "Who said that?"
There was no answer and she started to relax. "It must have been part of the dream," she told herself.
She leaned against the tree and closed her eyes, but before she could go back to sleep, she heard the voice again. "No, it wasn't a dream."
She opened her eyes, but again no one was there. "Who are you?" She spoke out loud.
"Relax. You don't have to shout. In fact, you don't have to speak at all. I'm right here. You're leaning against me."
"The tree?" Julia sat up again and looked around at the trunk of the old maple.
"You could say I'm a tree. Lean back again and relax so we can talk. You don't have to speak out loud. Just send me your thoughts. I'll hear them."
Julia leaned back again, thinking, "I must be crazy. I'm talking to a tree."
"No, you aren't crazy. Anyone who spends enough quiet time alone in the woods will start talking to trees."
"Maybe, but they don't generally talk back."
"Of course they do. You just have to listen carefully."
Julia considered this for a moment and then said, "I think you've been trying to get my attention for a long time. You dropped a leaf on my head - and some snow, too."
"Yes, that's true. I could see you were ready."
"Ready for what?"
"But I'm getting lots of instruction already - history, science, French and math." Julia made a face as she thought about math.
"This is a different kind of instruction."
"You'll see as we go along."
"Is this a mystery?"
"If you want it to be."
Julia waited to see if the tree would say anything else. Slowly she picked up her book and started to stand up and then she heard the whispering words again. "And you can throw away the dead leaf now. You don't need it anymore."
Julia looked at the tree in astonishment. "How did you know about the dead leaf?"
She waited again, but there was no answer.