He was there in front of me. Old but enormously majestic.
Suddenly it sucked me in its lap and going back six centuries I became a child again. The old cobwebs opened, and from the immense black cave came light. When my eye adjusted and the fear of the dark and its surprises had faded, I climbed.
I felt its rough skin under my hands, I knew how old those wrinkles were. I waited a moment before sticking my face out from that ancient crack, wounded by storms, by centuries gone by and by man. In the light I could see its open arms, infinitely long and bent to gather the sun, covered with moss and rough, brown bark.
I was in the heart of the enormous living being, where once, centuries before, its life had begun. And I found my passage of twenty years ago, engraved in the fibres that are now almost stone-hard. Embraced by the colours that I had lost like a painter. Twenty years had passed since, for the first time, I had squirmed into the belly of the giant giant. At that time my scientific knowledge, a passion and a desire for doing, had brought me. Now I felt many, too many years, older and more tired, while the giant was growing with unchanged vigour.
But the darkness of its wooden heart had been beating since time immemorial
and I sat down, snuggling into its embrace. The old tree had welcomed me as I was. It had remembered the smiling boy of the past and welcomed him again. Knowing that time had passed much faster for him. I remained, protected in its shell. While out on its branches, young men were dancing to cure it. Perhaps I would no longer have the time and the means, but only the desire and envy of their frivolous youth. In the end, I stretched out again, again, reverently, on the ground and crawled out of that little hole that offers access to its heart. I caressed the imposing trunk again and looked at the grace of its centuries-old branches.
Once again, an old tree had welcomed me and I had dispersed my old malaise amidst its leaves. A great old being had hugged me anew. This time it unequivocally enveloped me in its coils. Then, almost lightly, it had let me go. I smiled. I still have to thank it.
I said goodbye to the great old oak of Sterpo and in silence I left.
(photo by Stefano Zanini. For more photos about the Great Oak https://www.gianttrees.org/en/giant-trees/la-quercia-di-sterpo)