Breathing trees

It’s peak hour and I find myself walking the long way home with an overtired little bub wrapped tight against my chest and an empty pram skimming ahead of me – lighter having its precious cargo commuting by other means.

The traffic roars past us with ferocity. It’s unnerving and I find my arm coiling itself like a friendly python around my little parcel.

It’s been a long afternoon and I’m holding my stress at bay… just. A podcast on my phone beckons with promise of safe harbour from the traffic storm. As I squish my earbuds in I change the sound channel from angry zzzzssssshhhhhhgggg to calm chatter about an old news story.

The sun is dipping now. The warmth of anxiety and fatigue slowly seep out of me with each cooling minute of sunset. I wrap bub with another layer of cosy and tuck the edges in while she sleeps tummy to tummy.

With the distracting noise at bay my eyes feel free to explore the world above buzzing snakes of cars and buses. It’s so peaceful up there. A luxuriously deep sea of pastel-painted sky. There is space between the trees and room to breathe – even between the many threads of wire that criss cross along the street.

A white-knuckle feeling ebbs away with the vista taking my focus from the day past to the night coming. The little joey in my pouch stays mercifully asleep after so much turmoil in her world just moments before. She was out of sorts today and impossible to soothe. This walk is soothing us both. It almost feels like she’s burrowing into me. I shuffle with tired relief towards home.

As I drink in the welcoming expanse of everything above the built world, I see the trees with new perspective. Are they breathing? Their wiry trunks and ever-thinning, splitting trails of branches look like the lungs I know are feeding my body detoxifying oxygen. I realise at this moment the wooden lungs lining this street are breathing in when I breathe out. They take my carbon dioxide exhale, exchanging it for the precious air agent I need to breathe. I inhale, they exhale, they inhale, I exhale. I’m grateful. They’re graceful. A kind of symmetry.

Home tugs us in. We round the last corner. The sky holds onto me like I’m holding onto my precious bundle: a comforting grip warm with belonging. I’m a puppet on a string – a little weightless between steps despite feeling careworn and depleted.

The silhouette hour deepens around me as if colouring inside the lines of the pencil-sketched world I’ve been mapping on my walk. The sky deposits me safely under the front awning of our house. The pram forgotten on the grass, I click the key clumsily and almost stumble through the doorway. I carefully unwrap my cargo and lift her out with a forgotten reserve of strength and we both flop gently onto the couch.

As I peel the body-warmed straps and fabric of the baby carrier away from my damp shirt, I sense the day letting go of me and the stress that secretly wove its way into the mesh of the pouch is now not only off my person but beautifully disappearing into thin air like water becomes steam. Fresh air tingles my skin and I fill my lungs with air, looking out the window at the breathing trees swaying in the last seconds of daylight.

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