This is Catharine back at the old family farm in May 2016.
From Polly of Bridgewater Farm
On days that did not go so well, like wash-day, Polly had a special friend she could count on, the old sycamore that stood between the farmhouse and the coach road.
That old sycamore. It had been battered by many a storm, becoming a little more gnarled and bent each time, but still it stood, offering shade in the summer and a bright flash of gold in the autumn. That first winter on the farm, when she was just four, she had watched the tree gradually turning black in the late afternoon sun, a proud silhouette, a friend in the dusk, the leaves of the highest branches tipped with light.
If you stared at the tree long enough, she thought, you might gradually become part of it, reaching up towards heaven through its leaves. That never quite happened, much to her regret. But one hot August evening the following year, she was sent to bed for some minor infraction. She was leaning out of one of the two gable windows of the loft as far as she dared. Joseph had attached a hinge to it so that his grandchildren might benefit from fresh air, their one free commodity.
The summer scents were intoxicating; clover, honey suckle and new- mown hay, with a dash of pungent manure. The grasshoppers and cicadas were in full throat. A fox barked in the distance; horses’ hooves clopped on the dry roadbed. The sycamore, her friend, loomed as a dark silhouette against the western sky. Away down the slope of the nearest field a single blackbird had begun his evening song. It floated clear and high above the hum of insects, so powerful that in the end Polly heard nothing else, leaning into the song as though she had become part of it, a melody half-heard, half-remembered, going on all around her, whose meaning she couldn’t quite grasp.
And the song ended, and the evening star came out, a moment she would remember for the rest of her life.
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