By Will Baker

I find the sub-conscious to be a very curious thing. This past weekend I had, perhaps the strangest dream which, I have ever had. In this dream, a very good friend, a person who I had not seen in months, visited me. And what an experience this session of REM sleep provided me with.

The setting was a moonlit night at a place called Brandon Gap, in Central Vermont, one of the few east/west passes bisecting the Green Mountains in that part of the state. I had been walking the Long Trail, which is actually a portion of the Appalachian Trail, all day, and had settled down for the evening not far from some spectacular cliffs which overlook a beaver-pond at their base. I was tired and foot sore, and was looking forward to some deep sleep.

My small fire had burned low, and I was startled out of my rest by a soft voice: "get up sleepy-head," said my friend. I opened my eyes, and there she was. She was radiantly beautiful, wearing a long white gown, of antique design. She was bare foot and had little white flowers in her hair that glimmered in the moonlight. She looked like a character out of a Tolkien novel. I sat up in my sleeping bag, and asked her what she was doing there. She said that she came to give me strength, and to receive it in turn. I rubbed the sleep from my eyes and, my limbs being stiff with the day’s toil, climbed slowly up out of the bag to meet her embrace.

I had been walking that trail in an attempt to sort out some recent complications in my life. The type of complications that, from time to time each of us must deal with. Of course, she knew all this, and was there to help me. She said that she couldn’t stay long, but if we really focused on it, we might make a lifetime out of the visit. The clouds had rolled back, and as we spoke quietly the moon shone brightly on her pretty face. I opened my bag, to give her a seat, and when I stoked our little fire, it blazed merrily. Although both time and distance separate us, our lives have paralleled each other’s to an amazing degree. And one common theme is our developing understanding that we each want "more" out of life than we seem to be able to manage. As the fire crackled, we talked about this at length, and reached the conclusion that, whatever becomes of us we will indeed be all right. She also told me that, although at the moment our personal circumstances make it difficult for interaction with one another, our paths would most definitely cross again. She said that we were like two children in a "fairytale" and that she was there to tell me that the story would have a happy ending. My feet were blistered, and while she spoke these soothing words, she gently tended them

As we talked, we heard movement all about us, the rustling of wildlife, just beyond the circle of light cast by our little fire. And when the wind born clouds moved from in front of the moon, we could see the animals of the woodland, curiously watching us. And when they moved, the moonlight cast their feeble shadows. We wondered what they were doing there, but we were not afraid.

Our talk moved on to the fear of being hurt. "I do not have that fear," I said. "Yes you do," she replied, "we all do." Rising from the bag, she took my hand and led me down the path towards the cliffs. The animals followed, fox and bear and raccoons all, deer and moose. What a procession we made, until hand in hand we stood at the top of the cliffs and peered out. The clouds were gone, and the sky seemed open and full in the moonlight. The breeze had died down. The air was utterly calm, and then they came. "Do you seem them," asked my friend with a barely audible voice. "Yes, I see them," I replied. We stood there, like two children who had fallen out of a fairy tale, hand in hand, lost in the woods, as angels swirled around us. We felt their love, and we felt at peace.

And then, off in the distance, we heard the sound of a motorcycle ascending the road, which leads over the gap. After a moment we listened while it crested the ridge and began its descent. We could see the road faintly, way down below from where we stood. There is a "pull off" where the pavement comes close to the beaver pond, and the bike pulled off on to it. The driver turned off the engine and sat there for a moment. My friend and I stood there, surrounded by animals, with angels swirling about us, waiting expectantly. The driver addressed us in a loud clear tone, "they can’t hurt you, no one can hurt you anymore."

There was more to this dream, but this is where I choose to stop the telling. When I awoke I felt strangely redeemed, almost as if I had been recently ransomed. This truly was one of the strangest, most compelling dreams that I have ever experienced. And it makes me wonder about the nature of dreams; what they are all about. Was my subconscious processing one of life’s problems for me, or was there more to it than that? I honestly do not know. And what of this "fear of being hurt," that my friend and I discussed? And the motorcycle rider’s proclamation that no one can hurt either of us again: who was he? And why did he bless us, for after considering the matter, I do believe that we received his blessing. But perhaps strangest of all were the angels, for I am not one to really believe in such things. Where then did the notion come from?

I am left with all of these unanswered questions. Indeed, analyzing a dream is sometimes similar to peeling an onion: the more that is uncovered, the more that remains to be seen. Yes, dreams are very curious things, yet also very necessary. It is a fact that if humans are withheld them, we will die. Lack of REM sleep eventually causes death. But on a visceral level, it seems to me that there is more to it than that. Of course we process problems in our sleep, and some of us even have the odd experience of premonition, or sharing the exact same dreams with other people. So what does it all mean? I wish I could tell you. However, I do know that I feel fortunate to have camped with my friend and the angels that she brought with her.


 (Essay Collection)