The Trees

Inspired by The Daily Prompt: Are you superstitious?


The great thing about growing up in a culturally diverse family who all share the same trait ( story telling and writing ) is that you will hear great ghost stories and learn about superstitions from all over the world.

The down side is, it’s easy to forget which stories and superstitions came from which part of the world  because in my case they sort of got mashed together.

In this case, that didn’t happen.

My Grandparents have a yard full of trees on their property in Hawaii. My Grandparents have passed on, but our home and the trees are still there.

Guzman Home
Photo E.L. Godfrey

In their yard  we still have Macadamia nut trees, a Banana tree ( my brother’s favorite ) and a Papaya tree ( my favorite ) they had a few others but I don’t remember what they were because they either got knocked over in a storm or they got some kind of tree disease and carted off.

My Papaya Tree at our Family home in Hawaii
E.L. Godfrey

When trees fell over in a storm, or there was deadfall around, my Grandparents cleaned it up before the last branch hit the ground because they believed that a demon called a Bangungot ( or Batibat ) could have lived in the tree. Once the tree was destroyed the Batibat would invade the house close to their tree and kill the people living  after paralyzing them in their sleep and then suffocating them.

I’m not sure what the ritual was for getting rid of a homeless Batibat, but getting rid of their tree, every bit of it seemed to be part of the belief in my Grandparents case.

I’m not sure how successful it was because as I was growing up I did suffer from Sleep Paralysis but when it happened I didn’t try tp wiggle my toe  to wake myself up. I would tell myself to hold my breath and then I would ‘dive’ and  tell myself to go deep, as if i were swimming  and when I came up, I was awake.

Artist Unknown

So now we move on, almost 54 years later when I was out walking my dog Hamish after a bad rain storm. Over the last winter the weather here has been pretty wicked and it had rained so much that trees were falling over and there were even some landslides.

As usual, on this walk let Hamish Macbeth jump up over a little rock wall and run around in the bushes

The little area he runs in isn’t even 16 feet long- it runs along side an exterior apartment building wall, so it’s safe. He’s not out in the street and I can walk along side him.

What I didn’t realize was that a little evergreen bush had fallen over and as he was running along Hamish’s leash got stuck in the branches.

Hamish didn’t panic and he didn’t freak out. When he felt the leash pull back, he did what he’s trained to do. He sat right down.

So I had to climb up this slippery waterlogged hill and when I got to him I was surprised because the handle of Hamish’s leash was actually wrapped around the root ball. No wonder he couldn’t unfree himself. I had to unwind it to get him loose three or four times to get him loose.

Photo A.M. Moscoso

Like I said, it was very slippery so I dropped his leash and told him to walk but then he stopped and I heard him growl.

Hamish hardly ever barks and this was maybe the third time in his eight years of life I’ve ever heard him growl, so I was afraid he had gotten hurt.

When I looked down, Hamish Had grabbed a branch and bit into it. Then he shook it and growled again. I told him to leave it and he dropped the branch, but when I turned to walk on he grabbed the branch again and tried to drag the little tree after himself.

Right there, just as it started to rain ( again ) I  checked Hamish for splinters and cuts to his mouth and paws and I actually dug some bark from between his teeth and I wiped his paws down before we went in after our walk.

A few hours later, before we went to bed I brushed his teeth and brushed him down out on our deck and then I swept up his fur , I put it in the trash and then I walked it out to the dumpster.

It’s not like my dog has never gotten messy, or decided to drag around branches or sticks. But at the time I just felt like it was really important that I make sure he was clean and that not a trace of the Evergreen was on him.

Hamish Macbeth
Photo A.M. Moscoso

We still walk by that wall and that tree is still there and Hamish doesn’t try to jump up there anymore. Two months later and he still has issues with that tree because sometimes he looks at it and he flatten his ears against his head and his hackles go up.

The first few times I thought it was funny that my non-aggresive dog who has actually  fended off overly aggressive dogs at the dog park and went back to being his happy-go-lucky self,  doesn’t get scared of fireworks or gunfire and when he gets tossed a curve ball he always seems to be able to navigate himself out of precarious situations.

And then yesterday, when I saw him give the stink eye to the very dead evergreen, out of nowhere I thought of the Batibat.

Dollars to donuts, Hamish was thinking of her too.

Hamish Macbeth
Photo A.M. Moscoso


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