Lucky me, I stayed at a cottage near the beach for a week and spent the most of that time confined to bed with some sort of stomach plague. This was just your run-of-the-mill stomach flu, complete with a low-grade fever and aches. There is nothing noteworthy in that. Illness happens whether you’re on the road or at home. It’s the mundane stuff of which life is made.
What is not-so-mundane is that during the last night of my vacation, I managed to sleep walk from my bedroom into the back yard of the cottage, and then climbed a tree. It’s probably worth mentioning that I get vertigo on anything higher than the second step of a ladder. Even so, there I was, 20 feet up a live oak tree with a fever, stomach cramps, and acrophobia. Fast asleep.
At that point, things began to get weird – okay, weirder. I dreamed that Baron Samedi was sitting on the branch beside me, taking puffs of a cigar in between whistling a tune. “What are you doing in a live oak tree?” I asked him. He just grinned and said “This isn’t a live (adj.) oak tree; it’s a live (v.) oak tree.” I told him there’s no such thing as a live (v.) oak tree. “Know everything, do you, girl?” he responded. “Tell you what I know. I know you need to learn the difference between just being alive and actual living. You’d best live the life you got, because once you shed that skin of yours, party’s over, real work for you then. They have big plans for you then.” This was followed by a couple of lurid and suggestions about how I might ‘live the life’. Things went fuzzy at that point, as they often do in dreams.
I woke up at some point before dawn safely tucked against a fork in the branches, convinced that the crow sitting on the branch above me had been reciting Puck’s final speech from A Mid-Summer Night’s dream (“If we shadows have offended, Think but this and all is mended, That you have but slumber’d here, While these visions did appear.”). After that bit of fever-induced hallucination, I finally woke up enough to realize that I was up a tree, overhanging a salt marsh at no-such-time-o’clock in the morning. It’s amazing how agile one can be when trying to get out of a tree quickly while simultaneously avoiding a fall into alligator-infested water. Tarzan would have been put to shame.
I would analyze this for some deeper mystical meaning, but what do you do with a tree-dwelling Baron and a Shakespeare-reciting crow? Just this… if I ever get another flu, someone please chain my ankle to the bed until I recover. The gods only know what tree I might try to climb next time.*
*One could also conclude that I have a daft but successful guardian angel, considering I neither broke my neck nor went for a moonlit swim. However, I wouldn’t want to ruffle any feathers by suggesting it too loudly.