Climbing trees

Climbing trees…

This is what Beulah did in “Night Vision”:

When something terrible has happened, childhood seems safe. And to reclaim a happy childhood it sometimes seems a good idea to do childish things, innocent childish things. So Beulah climbed a tree…

Beulah has had a terrible row with her husband Neil and angry and upset she drives away and finds herself driving through Camel Wood. She pulls over, gets out of the car and goes for a walk.

More upset than she knew she ought to be, and annoyed with herself because she could not control the churning emotions, Beulah wandered beneath the trees. It was years, probably when the boys were small, since she had last been in Camel Wood. It reminded her of happy times from her own childhood and adolescence. Picnics with her family in woods like this, illicit barbecues with friends, romantic and not so romantic seductions in the deeper glens and dells. There was nothing familiar here, it was just a pleasant rather overgrown early summer woodland.
Beulah realised she was lost but was not afraid or worried. She had a flash of fantasy about being totally lost and Neil anxious and concerned coming to look for her. But of course that really was nonsense, she thought unhappily.
She pushed the feelings away and wandered on, climbing slightly. She hit a track and followed it down again and then it disappeared and she was wandering aimlessly once more. The trees were in full leaf, but a sombre and dreary green in the grey afternoon light. There was no wind and fancifully it seemed to Beulah that she was watched. She had no notion of what the time was, and didn’t care. There were rocky outcrops now and she realised she was in an ancient and long abandoned quarry.
And it was here she saw the tree, the tree she felt moved to climb. It had branches at just the right inviting height and she smiled to herself as she reached to catch hold and step onto a lower one.

Beulah had a rush of excitement, a sort of thrill she hadn’t felt for such a time that it seemed it was when she was young. But I’m not old! Her inner child cried. Forty-four, that’s old, her real self replied. It was a wonderful tree to climb and soon she was eight foot off the ground. She stopped and grinned and she wondered when she had last done that too. She could see more clearly the rocky walls of the quarry, covered with ivy and unfurling ferns and long trails of some sort of vine.
Beulah began to climb again, not looking up, enjoying the feel of the bark, the smell of the leaves. Sun shafted through, the clouds moving, the weather clearing at last. She glanced over at the cliff and then glanced back again in disbelief

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