I wandered down the meandering forest path, hoping that I might meet Oakryn on this fine autumn morning.
The trees were ablaze with colour—bronze, ochre, copper and vermillion. Only the oak trees remained stubbornly green, though their leaves were browning around the edges. The fallen leaves crunched as I trampled them underfoot. Branches were laden with food for the forest creatures. Acorns, chestnuts, hazelnuts, pine seeds and horse chestnuts were abundant. Squirrels scurried through the undergrowth and scrambled up the trees to collect food, burying it in their own secret places for their winter stores. A red squirrel, perched on an elephant foot fungi, chittered its annoyance as I passed.
I stooped to examine some other fungi, making a quick sketch, and picked up a particularly large conker, remembering the games I used to play in the schoolyard.
I tipped my top hat back into position, moved some dry brown bracken away from my path with my stick and continued my stroll, quite lost in thought, until I felt a light tap on my shoulder and turned to find Oakryn, my beloved Dryad. She stood up on her tiptoes—as usual her feet were bare—to receive my kiss.
“My Karl,” she said; a greeting that was now familiar to me. I didn’t mind her possessiveness. The rolling ‘r’ in my name was ever enchanting, and being loved by this beautiful, wild creature made me feel special beyond reckoning. “I take you; meet Mother.” She stumbled a little over the words.
I was startled by this, but didn’t object as she towed me deeper into the forest.
Eventually we reached a clearing, at its centre a mighty oak, its trunk as thick as twenty men and branches so long and heavy that they almost brushed the ground.
Oakryn pulled me to the tree. “This Mother,” she said, placing my hand against the trunk.
I was startled to feel the warmth and love emanating from within. Tears welling in my eyes I took Oakryn’s hand and she placed her free hand against ‘Mother’.
At that moment I felt complete.