The Healing Tree

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I’m down by my tree again, Beth is collecting India and her boys from playgroup and I’ve got until five pm to make a start on a new sketch.

I can hardly believe that I’ve sold four drawings to a complete stranger! I got £400 in cash from the gallery after commission and framing. That’s a lot of money to a traveller; I can make it last three months and no hassle with the DHS! I’ve not signed on since Bristol last winter. All spring and summer working in the fields with the tatties and bulbs; then Danny splitting with the Transit and the money – the bastard! Spending our stash on brew and skunk. Good riddance. Now it’s just me and India, my beautiful girl! And the old Safari trailer with nothing to pull it!

Two years gone, and I still cry over Jacky every day. I got arrested with the others, but they let me go ‘cos of India. Even the pigs felt sorry for me. I split, went on the road and ended up in Bristol with Danny the hitter and kicker. Oh Jacky! Gentle Jacky! With your long raster dreads and your big black, beautiful body; those hands, so big but so careful. Oh shit! Stop it Jenny. There’s no use in it. Get on with the drawing.

The tide’s on the make and will soon cover the roots of my huge and wonderful Cornish oak, as they twist and turn beneath the high tide mark. The water has carved out a cave under the tree; it’s a magic dark place, even at mid day. I found it at low tide when India was playing with Beth’s boys and I was kicking stones and looking for shells on the little beach. At first, I couldn’t believe that a tree could have a cave under it with the roots going down like pillars in a church. I have been in lots of times since.

That first time I went in was two months ago, I was so miserable, and thinking, as usual, of Jacky. Danny had just gone off with the money and my face hurt where he had hit me. I don’t know why I went in, but I’m glad I did. I crawled between the roots in my denim shorts and my green vest and got really filthy! My hands, arms and legs, even my face! But what the heck, I like being filthy; I’m a traveller!

It was quite cramped ‘cos I’m 5ft 9in and big boned. When I was right inside, I curled up and cried for ages until I heard the voice.

Like whoa, I mean, when you hear voices people say you’re a loony. The voice said, “Jenny”. I jumped out of my skin and would have run if I could. I banged my head on a root and it hurt, so I sat back and rubbed it. The voice said, “Listen”. So I listened, I mean crazy or what! I listened to my tree. It had a woman’s voice; so that was good.

I am a pagan. Not strict, but I keep the festivals and the solstices, jump over the fire and chant and drum with the others, and a few Beltanes I have joined in the fucking! So I know about the Goddess and the higher plains and all that, but to have Her speaking to you! I mean Joan of Ark or what! But I closed kartal escort my eyes and listened. And that was when I began to reconnect.

On the protests, I was a tree person and Jacky was a Digger. I didn’t much like the tunnels but I loved it in the trees, but I never went up that far ‘cos of India. Some women have had their kids snatched for taking them up in the trees. No way was I going to loose her, so I never went up for long. I was in a bender with two other women, running a crèche when the tunnel collapsed, and Jacky — Oh shit! The voice told me to reconnect with my elements, and draw, like I did when I was a child and was naturally connected. I remember drawing trees at school. When we had art, I would draw a tree, even if I should have been drawing a chair. The art teacher used to overlook it and still gave me good marks because I drew good trees! She must have been a tree person too.

The next day I started in India’s drawing books using her crayons. When Beth saw the drawings she gave me her paper and a book on how to make charcoal, so I made a pit. It took me quite a few tries to get it right.

Beth took some of the better drawings to her friend’s gallery in Truro. He gave Beth some hand made paper and some tins of fixative on the condition that she brings the finished work for him to see. When she did, he framed them and put them up in the gallery, and sold them the very next week. Mr J Andrew Esq. bought all four and gave David a commission for three more ’cause he needed seven for his library. That’s another three hundred quid! David wanted a photo of me for his newsletter, so Beth took some arty black and white photos, side lit and moody. I hardly recognised myself; she had made me into a beautiful, grubby bohemian artist from a Pre-Raphaelite picture book. I’ve got a print on the wall of the trailer. Beth was excited and really pleased with them and she wants to take some more for herself; a series of nudes in the landscape, so I said yes.

Beth has been kind to me from the very first, when we were left sitting in the lay-by after Danny went. The pigs were getting heavy. Beth was driving by in the Landrover and saw me arguing with them. Right then, no messing, she hitched up the trailer and towed us down a track away from the road, to the little copse she owns near the farm.

I had met Beth before, waiting for the kids at playgroup. The other mums wouldn’t talk to me; frightened off by my long red dreads and my nose ring I expect; but she was really cool, and now we are friends and I do some cleaning for her in exchange for the park-up and look after her boys when she and John go out. She takes India to playschool with the boys. So it works out well. But I’ll always be grateful to her for this bit of luck with the gallery. Jonathan Andrew made David frame the photo of me to match the drawings, so maltepe escort bayan he must like the picture too. He’s gone away on business until October so the work is still hanging with little red sold stickers on. There I have finished, and the tide is almost at my feet. I’ll say goodbye to my Tree and walk back to the farm and collect India.

It’s late and the Tilley’s burning low. It needs refilling but I can’t be bothered, so I’ll turn it off and crash out. I’ve been drawing a Tree Lady for Beth. She is so nice to us. I was late collecting India after walking back to the farm this afternoon. I thought Beth might be cross but she had been making cakes with the kids, so we had buns and tea with her and John before coming back to the trailer. I wanted to get away when John came in from drilling, ‘cos he’s sometimes a bit off with me, but since I’ve sold the drawings he has been OK. He even offered me the big torch to take back ‘cos it was nearly dark by the time we left. But I don’t mind the dark, I never have, nor does India. For us, danger has come from people you can see standing right in front of you: the pigs, the bailiffs, Danny! So we came back and lit the burner ‘cos it felt damp and cold, and had some soup. I read India a story and she fell asleep early, so I started this drawing. I think it’s good. You have to look closely to see where the tree stops and the Lady begins. I might do a series of these, after I’ve finished the commissions.

I’m down by the creek again working on the next commission. It’s been two days since I have been here and I can already see the beginnings of autumn, it’s still warm but some leaves have fallen and the greens are less green.

The day before yesterday, I did Beth’s cleaning in the morning and we sat around all afternoon talking. She was a bit down until I began to ask her about photography. She told me about her Art College in the eighties and what a gas it all was, then she showed me a self-portrait taken at college. She was beautiful; a sort of punky hippie, all rags and feathers like Leonard Cohen’s Susanne! She has changed a lot, short hair, too plump, and dresses like a farmer’s wife. Then she brought down a portfolio from the top of her wardrobe. Her work is really good. Some of the best pictures were hand tinted and quite erotic. Nudes of her friends – girls and boys – all tangled up! Beautiful! So I said that I meant it, about letting her do some of me. Suddenly, she’s got her creative spirit back and wanted to start there and then, but the house was full of kids!

So yesterday afternoon, Farmer John babysat and we went into the big wood and did a session. She was full of ideas and I did my best to get into some of the poses she wanted. She must be an earth person, like Jacky. She’s gone into Truro today, to use David’s darkroom! So I guess I’ll see the results this escort pendik evening. The boys are with their granny and India went too!

I’m not bi or anything, but I got quite turned on in front of her camera, naked on the earth, wrapped around rocks and trees, under hedges or almost buried in leaves and leaf mould, really grubby. Beth thought my nipples were hard because I was cold, but I knew different! I felt things I’ve not felt for quite a while, juices running and warmth in my centre. Jacky’s touch – his long fingers – How I remember!

I’ve been down here all morning drawing and now it’s time for a break. I think I’ll go in my cave to see if the Goddess is there!

Its Thursday already and I’m on the last of the commissions. Beth’s photos of me are fantastic. I saw all the contacts and work prints on Monday night and I had all the kids for two days when Beth went back to the darkroom to make the big prints. We’ve chosen ten, and David is making a special section in the gallery to hang them in after framing. My body on the wall for all to see! What! Everyone who has seen them thinks Beth has done a brilliant job.

When Beth went to the kitchen to make coffee last night, Farmer John said how pleased he was that she had found her work again because she has taken on a new lease of life, then he winked at me! I’m not frightened of John now, I quite like him.

I’m beginning to feel really good. I’ve not felt this good since before Jacky died. There! I said it without wanting to cry. Two months ago I was dreading this winter, now I think it’s going to be fantastic. We’ve got money for food, wood for the burner, friends and a wonderful park up. Wow!

I went into the gallery with Beth today in my long patchwork skirt and bare feet. David is just like I imagined; grey ponytail and a posh voice; he wore red trousers and a yellow sweatshirt with a poppy on! There were some of his abstract paintings hanging. One had a red sold sticker on, so someone liked it, especially at £1200! Beth and I have a small L-shaped section of the gallery to ourselves. I showed David the drawing I made for Beth. He said he’ll frame and hang the whole series when they’re finished, and I can have as much posh paper as I need. I’m beginning to feel like a real artist!

I’ve been in my Tree cave again but this time, I didn’t hear the voice, which is OK because I feel fine. Now, I go in and sort of meditate and each time I do, I feel stronger and come out with new ideas for drawings. The Tree Lady series is going to be really fantastic – I’ve bought some expensive coloured oil pastels on David’s recommendation – so colour is coming back into my life at last, and the images are becoming quite erotic! Ha! I must be missing it! Maybe I am going to meet someone, though I suppose I will have to wait ’til the next time around for Jacky.

I feel so much better – ready to move on, not physically, because I want to stay here in Cornwall and be a bohemian artist, but in my life, and India’s. I shall be such a good mother for her; she is a lovely kid.

My heart is open again and I am ready for whatever will happen next.

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