things old places say

Do you remember those things we talked about, so long ago? I remember everything, you know; all the faces, all our conversations. It is a difficult thing, you know, to have so many pass through, to become so close to them and have them become so dear to me, and then to watch them go, many times so abruptly. When I was younger, it was difficult to care for each new one, after a while; I knew how quickly they would be gone, and therefore avoided allowing myself to become too close to them, so that when they left it would not sting so badly. For the better, I suppose, I performed poorly at this; I could not help but care when each new friend came in, won over by the big smiles, and the joy they sought and found in me. With time, I grew older, taller, wiser. I grew areas which housed wonders of all different sorts, created whole families and networks of kind beasts and beautiful flora. I learned how to cultivate mystery. I was a best friend to so many who came through, and when they moved on I remembered them with fondness, knowing all the while that the vacuum which they left would soon be filled by a new friend. It is odd, though, you know; each vacuum took a slightly different shape, so that even when the space was filled by someone new, the leftover impression by each old friend left the slightest gap around the edges, the faintest awareness of their absence, a quiet note heard only in an echo when all the leaves were stilled enough to listen to the silence carried in the wind.

At any rate, it is nice to have you back; I believe you will find many things which you do not recognize, and I hope that you feel it is now for the better. Getting better all the time, I think, that would be a motto of mine. Many new things, yes, but just beneath you will recognize the rhythm, the heart; you will breathe the same air here which you once did, for the spirit is the same. That tree you all used to climb is still around, and I have allowed that whole spot to grow up quite a bit; now you will that find several of the young oaks you remember have become wonderful for scaling. Easy hand- and footholds, those. I have had a guest staying here now for some time, a large mottled owl, and it makes the most fascinating sounds; from time to time it will scream or make noises like a chimp, and any visiting children are horrified. It is quite amusing, I must say! I do try to help them realize they are safe from harm, of course. Perhaps you will catch a glimpse of it. The swing is still there, you will be pleased to hear, but unfortunately the dam you always used to cross the water has long since gone, uprooted in a storm. But now the water flows quickly there and it looks quite beautiful. You really ought to see the thick area, back where you could sit on those low-hanging vines – I’ve put a lot of work into that spot! I think you will be pleased. Wander for as long as you like. I will keep the spiders out of the path, but don’t stay too long after sunset, as that is when the old shelobs come out. I’m an old forest now, anyhow, and I can’t help but get quite sleepy when it gets dark. Don’t be alarmed by the creaking of the trees, or the whispers of the dreaming things; you’ll be as safe here as you always were. None of the ghosts are of the unpleasant sort in any case. See you in the morning, then, off you go, to those same old trails…

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