Tuesday’s walk leaves me despondent, the litter is back with broken glass and leavings of cans and boxes and fast food wrappings, the weather is grey, I see my favourite oyster mushroom has returned, not by its crested presence on the bark of the ailing Rowan, but by its kicked remains about the empty pedestal and Prosto bench, a sad sight in the drizzle, bruised gills sodden and damaged, matching my mood. I look to the tree and see how bark and fungi are part of the same living and dying organism, those vaulted spaces in the trunk become the perfect architecture for other life, the Oyster being the most flamboyant, fleshy and fragrant. The fluted fanning waves, like angel wings, pile upon pile, so delicate to the human touch yet so vigorous in their cellular formation, in dynamic dialogue with the energy of the dying tree. I see the scarrings of a name carved once into the bark and healed over from a more vigorous period in this tree’s life, the oyster seems to bring the inside out, giving voice to a secret trait of the Rowan.
In ancient lore the Rowan tree was planted to protect the threshold and all its animals from evil forces: the mischief of faeries; the curses of witches; and the returning spirits of the unsettled dead. Also known as the quickening tree, the Rowan has long been revered for its life giving and healing powers. The berries have a fiery energy and the tree is named for a flame, Luis, in the Ogham alphabet, giving form to the second consonant L. Caorthann is the Irish name for the tree, from Caor meaning both berry and a blazing flame. Rowan berries are important winter fuel for blackbirds and thrushes.
I watch a mother amuse her small buggy-bound child by throwing crumbs to the ducks, we greet one another as I pass in the drizzle, stepping over the sodden square of a four star pizza packet.
I head on over to ‘Scotland’ wanting the heath and the airy height; the swing still hangs by a thread from the oak and I pick up a stone form the path, it’s a piece of quartz with markings similar to the leopard skin print on my sleeve. I bring the stone back to the well and rinse it, enjoying the watery energy washing over me as my fingers wriggle the stone in the current.
The winter heliotropes are flowering again.