Last spring, I hiked up Mount Olympus. The valleys surrounding its
peaks are covered in black pine, beech, yew and tall conifers. On its
slopes, vineyards spread precariously; olive trees anchor deep with
their roots. Streams cascade to thirsty plateaus. No wonder the
ancient Gods lived there.
I stayed in refuges, drank from the streams and breathed the
pine-scented air. Cicadas serenaded me; butterflies I did not know
existed covered my arms. Wolves lusted after me.
Magical. Yet, I dared not return, fearing the strange sightings and
the silence: ghostly shadows appearing through the trees, gathering
near water, rushing through the meadows, with a heavy, voluminous
silence falling all round. At first, I did not believe my senses.
Gradually, I came to expect and even look for the shadows.
Whenever I tried to touch a diaphanous apparition – as if made of
smoke – it pulled back, avoiding my hand. I thought I saw it sigh,
more as a gesture rather than sound, and glide away.
It was recently that I understood – and felt freed to return. The
shadows are the souls of trees haunting the Olympian home of their
Gods. Felled unjustly, burned in war, famine, and in ruthless
profiteering, or carelessness, they return to plead with them.
Next time you visit Olympus, look for the shadows; seek this silence:
If it is not disrupted by a leaf falling, a stream’s gurgle or an
animal’s light footstep, know you are listening to the silent weeping
of the trees.
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