The End of an Oak and the Birth of Paris

This is a giant oak from Hatfield, in the UK. It is huge and moving in its grandeur. I thought I would show it to you, as the following start to a story has such a large and lovely oak in the background as well.

The Birth of Paris

     She has been waiting such a long time, since her body grew too old to function, too old to stay in this place of air, earth, and water, woven into life. Or has it been a short time? She reminds herself that the body and its memories are not who she is; they are only a function of biology, of molecules responding to the laws of the universe. Her ‘being-ness’ though, that is the Great Awareness that she should have melted into by now. Still she remains. She waits. Nahasdzaan Shima, named for Mother Earth, waits and wonders in a place between.

     Long before Shima lost her corporal image of herself, she heard a whisper. It came in tendrils of passing dreams and in scents on the breeze. Something was moving in the ground; something was coming forward from a place of stillness, a place of long rest. Something had allowed itself to be recognized at last, to awaken, and to function in the world of humankind: something very old, and very interesting. The aspect of Shima that still held this memory, also held the long slow smile of knowing it.

     Thirty-five years before the now (my how time flies), two very determined people were preparing to have a child. It was not their cognitive intention to co-mingle their respective genetic materials, but since the universe supplies limitless causes throughout time (flying or not), without any preamble or discussion, it was probably unavoidable. 

     William Buller (whose good-name had French roots, meaning ‘Scribe’), was academically inclined, but not a scribe at all. He was a young Department Head at Cambridge, with deep interests in Celtic Studies, in a century when this arcane subject was barely surviving, due to the fact that human survival had become a far more insistent topic than it ever had been. In public he was very dry, a little vain, and not inclined to laugh. His Cambridge persona was something he had inherited, along with a hefty bank account and a very traditional, but often empty, stately home situated somewhere northeast of London, perhaps near Kettering? He seldom mentioned it. 

     Will had met the woman named Bijou Dubois, while on Easter Holiday in London, where he let down his hair, so to speak. Her name was apparently also from French roots, by way of Haiti. Will had cultivated a group of friends from his college days who also had inherited uncomfortably large amounts of credits (they seldom mentioned it), but far fewer societal restrictions. Among them he could comfortably explore what he thought of as his ‘true-self’; something with lots of unexamined, and momentarily undisguised, appetites. In many ways Will was a very simple man.

     Bijou was a bright young woman who had seen more of life than she had strictly wanted to, before leaving home. Now she wanted to see the world and this time on her own terms. Bijou was an exchange student from Haiti, studying in London. One of Will’s friends had her as a student in his classes there, and hoped to have her elsewhere as well. He had invited her along to these parties with that outcome in mind. Instead, Bijou and Will did one of those things that people sometimes do, regardless of the differences in their ages, cultures, economic situations, or sexual inclinations; they fell in love. Will’s friend was momentarily perturbed, but he was nothing if not a man of the age, and gracefully gave up the suite he had taken in anticipation, just down the road, for his friend and company.

    This is where terms such as ‘whirl wind romance’ are coined and earn their authenticity: in the scattered clothing, the foolish comments, and the primal longings of the heart. They had only 10 days before classes resumed, so Will, after having used his friends’ suite well, took Bijou back to his ancestral home. He boldly knocked up, frightened, and then reassured the elderly staff, and preceded to show Bijou the life that she was pretty sure she had been born to. 

       On the last day, a day of unusual warmth and sunshine in the burgeoning spring, they chose to have a picnic lunch, out the back, across a wide lawn, over the hillock, and some yards beyond the folly. There grew a ponderous oak of unknown age. Beneath its shade they took their repast and made their child. 

     Before anyone assumes that our dark, small, delicately featured, Bijou had any specific intentions when she forgot to bring her birth control on holiday, remember the words ‘whirl-wind’ and also remember the most primitive parts of the human brain, and how for some indefinable reason, no matter how difficult life becomes, no matter that you end up raising children with the Neanderthal in the next valley over (and loving it), or you bring home the cheese monger from another continent who will never learn to speak your native tongue (except in the most intimate of situations, when you are sure you have just resolved all of the worlds philosophical conundrums, but failed to care), remember that humanity would rather fall in love and reproduce than remember any other thing on earth. Cut her a break.

     The point of this, however, is not love, however it may seem so. The point of this is the oak, or rather, the oak and its complimentary fungus, growing slowly and resolutely in the grass beneath. Sweet William and his darling Bijou forgot about the blanket that the cook had packed for them, and the butler had pointed out before handing off the picnic basket. They talked and laughed and drank wine. They nibbled sandwiches and each other until the need for or even the location of the blanket was superfluous. They scrambled and rolled and… Let us just say that the molecules that it took to conceive a child were similar in size to those molecules of bits of the tree and its loving fungus. It might be good to consider the oak as a vast storehouse of learning and wisdom, and its mycorrhizal fungi as something like the Internet. Or perhaps not.

     There now, enough said. In the months ahead, the discovery of a certain child in a womb was considered a sweet thing, and set various other things in motion. A wedding was had, a small cottage in Cambridge was purchased, a man, 21 years older than his wife, knew himself to be smitten and didn’t mind, a young woman of only 20 years felt blessed and contented and at ease with the world. A child was born whole and healthy, and named for the most romantic thing her mother could think of, and everyone was happy. It is one of life’s most wonderful realities; no matter how lovely or poorly things seem to turn out, they are bound to change.

     Returning to the now, where the story began: the oak is long dead; its trunk was cored by some eager graduate students some 5 years after the birth of Paris, they had discovered it as one of the last English oaks surviving, and chose coring as a direct route to determining its age, Will and Bijou had split only two years after the birth of Paris, when Bijou was invited on a longish holiday to the continent, by a ‘friend’ of Will’s, that she never remembered to come home from, and Paris has long since learned to take care of herself very well and has reasoned that she has nothing in common with her parents, although she too is now smitten, perhaps just as they were, with a young doctor named Alan.

Also, just as an aside, Nahasdzaan Shima, with whom this story began, will soon have some of her questions answered. Due to the fact, that every action has a reaction, and that limitless causes have preceded every single bit of happenings in the known universe, of which this is only an excruciatingly small detail, a tiny window into existence; everything is still as it should be. Interesting.