"There's a place I go,
when I'm alone,
do anything I want,
be anyone I want to be . . ." - Newton Falkner, Dream Catch Me
This is one of my favorite songs. Not only is it not the average thing a tween would listen to, but it describes my special place pretty well.
When I want to get away from the usual daily routine, I walk down to my local park. Sure, it may not sound much, but a special place does not have to be somewhere conspicuous.
Okay, so, it isn't exactly the Ritz, I know. But what makes it special is its ability to be on the outskirts of a popular park in the countryside, but can still seem very far-removed from the urban buildings of the town. It's very peaceful in my special place. I go there to relax, or to calm down.
The magic is really INSIDE of my special place - with the indescribable and breathtaking wonders of nature. The trees inside grow twisted and form ersatz ladders and lattices, enclosing you in a small, but beautiful hideaway. The branches from the trees that form the 'ladders' are well-worn and close to breaking. I'm anxious that, one day, the branches will snap, and I'll fall to my inevitable death. If death means getting a few bruises and landing in a patch of very stingy stinging nettles.
The crow's nest, as I call it, is the top of a few trees, branches entwined. This creates a 'bowl' shape - perfect for spying on the boys playing football or the field being harvested by an archaic combine harvester. To get to the Crow's nest, you have to climb up the 'ladders', grab hold of a precariously wedged branch and pull yourself up and over. The view is magnificent.
In winter, my special place is bare. The once leaf-covered branches fade and almost seem to wither. The ivy remains, but the life is drained out of the den. The good news is that the stinging nettles disappear, and the risk of being stung by one - or more - of these pesky weeds is reduced profoundly. During the winter, it is definitely not the best time to visit my special place, but the bareness of what surrounds you is delicately beautiful and seems fragile. A personification of winter's more graceful side.
There's also 'The Walk of Death' *dramatic music*. Let me talk you through it. To enter, you do the splits over a big hole from the Crow's nest or you can go via the 'Thorn Door'. The Thorn Door is basically the same thing you get roses to climb up (a trellis) but made out of thorns. When you enter, there are some steps. These steps aren't ordinary; oh no, they're made out of branches! You climb up and reach a small ledge, the top of a tree. To get to the next ledge, you need to do the splits once again over a big hole. When you reach it, you must lower yourself down a hole and voila! You're out!
Newcomers tend to find this intimidating. There's also a sturdy tree branch suspended from a natural arch a few metres above ground. You climb the arch and walk along the branch holding on to the available overhanging tree branches. This deposits you into the Crow's Nest.
Linking back into the song 'Dream Catch Me', I also go to my special place for another reason. When I'm in my special place, I can be whoever I want to be. My dreams of being an author have been accomplished, as have my acting dreams. I work for the BBC and have a degree in English Literature. I've settled down and made a life for myself. Nobody can stop me. And do you know what? When I'm in my special place, I'm going to keep on dreaming. Hopefully, with a little luck and a lot of work, my dreams will someday become a reality.