Here and there I see patches of hot white sky. The sun would burn me if it wasn’t held back by the tall, skinny, green trunks of the bamboo trees. They tower over me in my slightly reclined position. It is almost as if they are bending toward me, yet so tangled in each other that they cannot fall down.
It is hard to accept that bamboo, a perennial evergreen, is considered a member of the grass family. This forest is thick and tall. The “stalks” are called culm and the lines on the stalks are called nodes. I idly review the “Bamboo Botanicals” website as I continue to gaze lovingly at the intense wall of green, waving lightly into each other, creating an odd sound. Click, whoosh, click, whoosh—like a small child holding out an ice cream stick while running through a covered bridge over a rushing river.
“Here you go.” Nurse Dorothy interrupts my calm state.
“Leave me alone,” is my reply.
I don’t look at her. I am not in the mood. I say as much.
“Not in the mood for what?”
For you, I am thinking, but I say, “For anything—except my bamboo forest.”
Dorothy shoves a cup of pills under my nose and a miniscule cup of water. “Drink, swallow, and I’ll leave you to your bamboo.”
I’d rather die than take another pill. I take the cup, swallow the pills, wad up the cup, and throw it in what I imagine is the spot where nursie is patiently waiting. No comment from Nurse Dorothy, so I glance toward the opening. She is already gone. There must be a clinic on the outskirts of the forest.
Back to my trees.
I wonder out loud where the birds are and I am answered by chirping and cawing. A delicate wind finds its way to me, even though the branches and stalks leave little room for anything else. I know it is hot and steamy at the tops of the trees, but it is almost cool on the floor of the forest.
A dog, my dog, finds my hand and noses it up till my fingers touch her head. I scratch around her ears. An Irish setter’s fur is more like hair, soft and luxurious. I want to ask her what the ground feels like below her paws, but our language doesn’t hold those words. Sally knows the traditional—“out, treat, sit, shake, and come.”
“Treat?” Sally jumps on me a little, her dog scent hanging in the air near my nose, then settles down to the “sit” she knows I want from her. The treat bag is on my side table and in seconds the treat is down her throat.
“Could life be any better than this, Sally?”
She licks my hand as I move my eyes from her loving face to the tops of the bamboo—timber bamboo is what they call it in Wikipedia. Ninety feet high and higher. I want to go up there. I want to sail over the trees on a magic carpet feeling the wind in my hair, looking down to see what can be seen between the sun-dappled stalks.
The pills are kicking in and I float into a deep green swaying sleep. Sally lies down on the floor to nap.
Nurse Dorothy tiptoes in and pats Sally on the head while lifting the remote from my hand oh so gently. She mouths, “Good girl,” to the dog.
She points and clicks. Several large monitors in a semi-circle around the hospital bed turn off at once.