This is a fictional narrative, based on true events and is semi-autobiographical…
She felt the ‘pull’ that Autumn morning; a sense of smallness and closeness of everything and everybody around her that left her yearning for expansion, freedom and growth. So she strode out with gentle purpose, leaving her small city flat behind her.
As she walked, she recalled a recent conversation with a vague acquaintance that had left her feeling uneasy. She had been asked the question, “Where are you from?” and then, “But where are you really from?”, after her answer that she was born and bred in the city had left the questioner dissatisfied. She knew this question well, had been asked it many times before and understood that it was a loaded one.
She knew that depending on who was asking and how it was phrased, this question could arise out of kind curiosity and that the other person perhaps recognised a familiarity in her. Did they share the same roots and experiences? Did they have an unspoken connection that gave them both a feeling of home and belonging in each other? Or the question could be a way of highlighting and focussing on difference. Here, the questioner was really making it clear that she looked different to them and that therefore she couldn’t belong here. That she was Other. Depending on the exchange, she would either feel a warmth or a sense that she had been invaded.
She became aware that her shoulders were hunched, her brow was furrowed and that her chest ached with that all too familiar grief. The injustices of the world had been weighing heavily on her recently and she had been finding it difficult to find peace in her everyday…‘No justice, no peace’.
She let her gaze lift and she saw the auburn hued forest ahead. Her heart skipped a beat as if she had set eyes upon her lover after a long absence. She stepped into the secluded, sheltered woods and heard the first wonderful crunch of the natural carpet beneath her feet. She drew a deep, soulful breath in and instead of holding onto it like she so often did when she left her home to face the world, she let it out slowly, mindfully and audibly, exhaling a layer of everyday life with it.
She imagined the forest spirits fluttering, fussing and chattering around her, whispering the sweet words, “Welcome home” into her ears. She whispered back, “Thank you” and felt the gratitude well up inside her, spilling out as tears. They rolled down her cheeks, releasing some of the pain and leaving the beginnings of something else behind them. Her shoulders sank lower, the muscles in her face softened and her head rose instinctively so that she could see the protective canopy above; where the branches of the trees were reaching to each other across the path along which she walked.
She took a route off the beaten track, where the trees were even closer, where she could run her fingers through the fern fronds and where she could channel her inner child and swish through the fallen leaves. She could hear and see birds above her and occasionally she could see the telltale movement of the undergrowth, signalling that small creatures were close. When there was a break in the canopy, she could feel the tentative warmth of the Autumn sunshine on her face. She stopped only to reach down and pick up treasures from the forest floor. She squirrelled them away into her pockets, saving them for her Autumn shrine.
She was aware of her body and how it was moving. She could feel her chest rise and fall with renewed vitality in response to the fresh oxygenated air she was breathing in, and she felt as if she could walk a tireless journey to the ends and edges of time. She knew where she was going…deeper into nature’s embrace.
She never tired of the Autumn story and every year, she looked forward to watching the natural world around her change colour and form. She thought about how the leaves first transform from a plethora of greens to shades of reds and golds. Then they slowly but purposefully fall to the ground, enabling trees, the stalwarts of the forest, to preserve and survive during winter, until the weather is warm and bright enough for regeneration and growth.
It reminded her that over the years, unlike a tree who retains its identity although it has lost part of itself, when she had felt the need to change for self preservation and survival, she had sometimes lost her essence. But she had grown tired of the energy it took to present herself as someone else to please others. Instead she put her energy into healing and growth, just like the trees. Her transformation had been the realisation that she was fine the way she was, that she was special and that in fact she was a queen. The greatest gift she could give herself was to recognise that and to shower the acceptance, love and kindness that she so readily gave to others, over herself.
The woods were getting denser but she could see the object of her affection. She smiled as she reached her favourite tree: An ancient, majestic oak. She stroked it’s furrowed bark and put her ear right up against it, as if she could hear it speak to her. She closed her eyes and reached her arms as far around the wide trunk as possible. Through that embrace, she sent respect and love to this living embodiment of health and hope. In return she accepted the tree’s wisdom and reassurance, visualising it’s roots deep in the precious earth sending her positivity and strength. She felt grounded and she felt privileged to have found this. She knew where she was from. This was belonging. This was home.
After a little while, she began to walk slowly away from her tree, leaving one hand touching it for as long as she possibly could. The time had come to return to her city abode. She walked the paths towards the edges of the woods with renewal in her stride, breathing in deeply and filling up her lungs, as if she could store the clean air for later.
She carried that feeling of belonging and peace with her when she left the woods that day and although the world she went back to beyond the forest was the same, she felt a little bit different. She felt less overwhelmed and more able to act in hope rather than just live in hope. She knew what she needed to do and she felt determined that the next time somebody asked her where she was really from, she would tell them that she was Autumn Queen. She would say, “Just like the trees and just like you, I come from, I belong to and one day, I shall return to Mother Earth.”
I hope you’ve enjoyed the story of Autumn Queen. I have loved writing it. If you fancy stitching up your own Autumn Queen, she is available as a pattern, template and full tutorial in my Etsy shop.
Thank you for reading lovely. Until next time,
Love and warmth always,