Under the Plum: The Prequel

“The hair on my arms stood straight up and that’s when I knew.”

I asked you to meet me at the plum tree, so it could help explain how I came to live in Cape Breton, but I have something to share before we are ready for that class. The plum will present it’s lesson tomorrow, although it will make it’s appearance before the end of today’s post, if all goes well. Today, we read the pre-amble. Written by your substitute teacher.

First we have to talk about the goosebumps.

As a child, I associated “the goosebumps” with a getting a full-on case of the creeps. Apparently, this physiological response is part of our body’s “alert system” – a flashing light on our master console letting us know that pressure is building and we may need to do something – like perhaps put on a coat, change our phone number or swing a large stick.

I think we associate goosebumps with things that are “creepy” because they often accompany the unknown, and there is sometimes an element of suspense mixed in. Humans aren’t big fans of the unknown, so there is often a bit of discomfort. It’s connected to our survival instincts.

Picture a dog, cozy in her bed, suddenly hearing a loud noise outside the door. Imagine the cocking of her head, gaze locked on the door handle; the little hairs on her neck bristling ever so slightly. It is as if someone has whispered “on your mark” into her ear- and she is waiting for the “get set…go!”

Those hairs that bristled also make her look bigger (Pippa’s don’t do much, being a dog with little fur, but she, too, bristles) which will be helpful if the noise turns out to be much larger than she, is frothing at the mouth, breathes fire or upon entry into her domain, eyes her liver treats with ill intent.

But for now, she is simply on alert. After all, it could be the case of squeaky squirrels she ordered last week on eBay. She is salivating and bristling…. at the same time.

Before that door opens, all scenarios are equally possible. She knows that.

But, if she is a creature who has experienced a disproportionate number of dragons to deliver men, subsequent loud noises might cause her to expect that what will happen next will possibly torch her Kingdom.

We aren’t so different from animals, really. Like that dog, a loud noise or the unknown will put me on full alert. If I have the goosebumps, you can pry an unopened Toblerone from my clenched fist and I won’t even notice. Having met a couple dragons over the years, I know the benefits of being fully focused. But I also know the downsides. The pre-occupation. The slow leaching of joy from my joy-pond. The aching muscles and lack of sleep.

So, I practice being equally prepared for the case of squirrels, and that has made all the difference. It also makes the time before knowing what’s behind the door much more pleasant. I mean, before I open the door, it could be anything. Gram always told me, when I worried about what would happen next, “Don’t suffer before you have to.” I try to remember this.

I have come to experience the goosebumps quite pleasantly. I can allow myself to be bigger, not because I’m expecting the need to protect myself, but because I am preparing to receive something, and that something could be valuable information, the delivery of a gift, a realization, or the arrival of an important person into my life. It might even be a package I specifically ordered last week, but forgot all about. With practice, it seems my instinct now picks up more subtle information. Not just the frothy-mouthed stuff.

I have come to think of the hair on my arms, or the back of my neck, as rising to meet important occasions.

I recently shared my musings about goosebumps with a friend and she lit up like a Christmas tree, happy to meet someone in her tribe. She said her goosebumps tell her when “Spirit” is in the room. “Spirit” being who she calls the caring, guiding force in her life. Some people call this “God” or “Higher Power” or an Angel. When we think of it in relation to animals, we might call it instinct. Regardless, it is mostly invisible, and easily missed. I added her musings to mine, and enjoyed the mingling.

Anyway, on the occasion of meeting the plum tree I am finally about to introduce, I am standing at the edge of a meadow, close to a river, in a place that I don’t yet know the name of, but will soon call Hillsborough. I’m looking for my forever home.

There is heavy spring rain pooling in my eyes, a burr stuck to my sweater and frigid river-water in my boot. I have been walking for a couple hours through thick brush and forest, following old trails with a local man who I suspect is assessing my suitability for life in his neighbourhood, and, I imagine, my capacity to appreciate the special nature of the land on which we stand.

He takes a break from this important task, and turns his assessment skills to a naked tree. It’s very early spring, and because I haven’t yet met the trees, it has no distinguishing characteristics to my eyes aside from simply being a tree. No leaves yet; no fruit. No cones, notable bark, or name.

I watch his hands measure it’s girth and I observe his internal measuring tape as it reaches the top branches. After a long moment he says. “This must be it. This is it. I ate plums from this tree as a boy; best plums I’ve ever tasted in my life.”

He knows this tree. Among all the others, that to my eyes seem all the same, this one is special.

And that’s when it happened; an all-system alert. Both arms, fully bristled. I’m sure hair on my arms isn’t just standing up, it’s growing.

I stand at attention, wipe the rain out of my eyes and flick off the burr. Another tree -with the same seemingly nebulous characteristics – is growing about twenty feet away. They grow toward one another, their branches curving until they touch one another above our heads. They are clearly a couple, and I am in their arms.

I gaze out to where I know the road to be, and feel, with absolute certainty, that I will live between these two plum trees. I will see the next chapter of my life unfold through this archway; out this plum-window. Embraced in a plum-hug.

I turn to my guide, this stranger who will soon become a dear friend, and pass my hand over my arm, all goose-y and bumpy, and a little shiver runs through my body.

Yes, this must be it. This is it.

17 thoughts on “Under the Plum: The Prequel

  1. Goosebumps at songs from a lone human voice, goosebumps of being in a natural setting of extreme beauty, as reverence for very special occurrences, and profound art. And of course your writing, always contains smiles, anticipation, tears and feeling one with someone I’ve never met but feel akin to. So glad to have your posts to look forward to.


  2. My Goosebumps come when I say something, and then realise my arms are tingling, and know then I’ve touched into Spirit, or responded to a quiet prompt. It’s that feeling of absolute Truth, which often defies logic. In fact, it probably should defy logic! Anniexx

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I love what you write here. It brought tears of joy to my eyes.
    I have a goosebumps condition as well. I especially get them when I am moved by something exquisite in music. My choir director calls it “frisson” when music alights your whole body and touches the depth of your soul.
    But I also get goosebumps on other occasions … when I have this sensation I’ve been here before, in another life, or there is some symmetry suddenly involved in what initially appeared casual and happenstance.
    And I also get goosebumps when I have a visit with a ghost – a good ghost, a lonely little boy ghost, or yes, even a murderous one.

    I can’t thank you enough for how your writing about this magical land helps me in my daily life… opens me to the possibility of new adventures.

    Sent with much love,


    1. Good morning Margaret… MARGARET! ITS YOU! Ha, Ha! I didn’t recognize you in this new environment 😉 Thank you so much for taking time to share that. I totally have to check out this “frisson” you speak of! I didn’t know it had a word.. and it was, of course, E I was writing about. And oh boy, can I related to the symmetry aspect of these feelings. Do you recall those pictures that just look like wavy lines, but if you relax your eyes a certain way, they come into focus? Sometimes that will happen in the course of a day… in a sense… it’s not an easy thing to explain in words! But it DOES give my hairs “rise”! I love that you find your experience of our experience is an “opening” one. Replying, with much love. 🙂


  4. I love the symbolic lean toward the winter (even if unintentional) – the tree with no distinguishing characteristics – open for creation! I am ready ….. 😊


  5. No creepiness with good bumps here.
    Goosebumps thrill me.
    Cape Breton thrills me.
    Mull River thrills me.
    You and your blessed children fill me full of joy and I look forward to experiencing this journey with you dear friend.

    I have a Much different response to alarming/creepy alerts.
    From a double pulse in my chest to a not so good pressure up my neck into my head. Sometimes a floating above with an out of body experience.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hello “besti” !
      Nice to see you.
      Cape Breton love you right back!
      I wish you goosebumps instead … your alarm system sounds … alarming!
      To be truthful, I also experience the floating feeling. I think it’s just a way of getting a little distance when we need it. Can’t wait to have you come back again!


  6. I’m so glad to see you writing again and now sharing more about this very special place that has called to you. Looking forward to reading more!

    Liked by 2 people

  7. it’s been such a long time since I’ve gotten goosebumps, hmmm. I’m not sure if this is a good thing. I’m looking o forward to sharing your journey.
    thank you for the invitation. Sally


    1. Hello Sally. It could be that you utilize a different kind of alert system. Some people get s a slightly dizzy feeling, or a sense of being an observer of themselves for a moment, others a fluttering heartbeat. The Instinct, or whatever one calls it, seems to come in many different forms. But, as your message sort of “feels”… maybe you are in a time when the instinct could use a little kick start? There are times in my life, that the volume gets turned down on this “sense” and I take action to turn it back up. I need it! So, time in nature, time journalling, yoga, meditation. Anything that allows me to tune out the loud outside voices, and focus on that quieter inside ones. So, if this is the case, I wish you a year of goosebumps. Metaphorically of course 😉 I’m really happy you accepted the invitation!


  8. What a wonderful story😊 I too get what you call goosebumps on occasions when someone is telling me about something the Lord did for them, what some people would call a supernatural occurance.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Debbie 🙂
      Yay, goosebumps.
      I love that. It’s like your goosebumps alert you to when you are in the presence of something bigger than yourself. A miracle of some kind. Something beautiful. SUPER natural!
      Thanks for sharing that!


  9. I’m one of those rare people who don’t get “alert” goosebumps but I do goosebumps at times of extreme joy or the recognition of superb beauty. I felt both of those as we stood on your land in July and listened to your thrilling plans. Thank you for sharing your insights as you follow your dream on all its paths. Goosebumps of anticipation.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Hello my Crunchy Friend 😉
      I sort of think they might all be related? Perhaps you are being alerted to the presence of beauty and the magic that creates it. I feel so blessed that you came to visit me. You know there will always be a place for you at this Inn 🙂 XO


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s