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The natural cards revolve ever changing
Seeded elsewhere planted in the garden fair
Grow trees, grow trees
From Koeeoaddi There by The Incredible String Band
A misty twisty day in the woods always gets me humming The Incredible String Band's Koeeoaddi There. Today's mist is a thin, steeping turpentine wash with the dark bark paintbrush verticals of wet trees dropped into the swill. Probably this is missable day to most, a day to pass up on that spontaneous jog. A less-than-average everyday. But it's the kind of day I naturally lean into, full of all the quiet magic that does me worlds of good, the nothing magic of silence, animal to-ing and fro-ing and the slow unfold of the field galaxy's tiny changes.
A snowy spray is on the blackthorn. A couple years ago I learned to tell the haw from the blackthorn by the order in which the two blossom and leaf. Black goes blossom first, haw with leaf. As early bird, the blackthorn's March blossoms pose in stark contrast to other bare winter trees. The blackthorn is the misinformed, lone soul who came to the party in full fancy dress.
Behind the curtain of motorway sound, the woods are quiet. They are much like the woods on the cover of ISB's The Hangman's Beautiful Daughter from which Koeeoaddi There comes. Minus the raggle taggle band of sylvan mystics and songsters, although on a day like today their imminent materialisation would not be wholly unexpected, fitting my preferred mode of entering the woods: With some surrendering of reason.
Following the shallow ride, I look up. The trees lean into the hill, exaggerated barometers of the prevailing wind direction and force. Their arms twist and fork. They are estuaries, rivers, streams, rivulets, springs. They are blood vessels, they are a map of the nation’s road network. They make me feel a little dizzy. A wren explodes the stupor with a gargantuan volley of song. This bird must be all lung. At the weekend I watched a singing wren through the binoculars as its whole body shook with the effort. I wonder how tiring it is to stake ones claim so whole-bodily.
I look down. Deer tracks splay in the pillowy mud. I follow them up the path until they abruptly disappear. I’m at an animal crossroad. There are holes and smeuses everywhere. If I was more qualified I might unravel this maze, quarry some sense from this tumble of thoroughfares, but I'm really not and I’m cool with that. I'm content to play the part of the wide-eyed ignorant. For example, I have noticed a pattern of half-dug rabbit holes decorated with piles of droppings. But was it worth noticing? Was it a pattern at all? Are the droppings some kind of hole identifier (a save-to-return-to-later marker) or a straightforward assessment of the hole’s quality? There are no answers here, just the eternal observation of things.
The natural world as a wellspring of imagination. I cannot see most of it, and so it is full of mystery. Once a rabbit disappears down a hole, I don't know what colour clothes it chooses to put on. And when we start to pay attention, the mystery – like today's mist shrouded world – doesn’t necessarily clear. It mostly continues to deepen, even while some vectors become familiar, recordable and predictable. I find the mystery of knowing a truly wonderful conundrum, in the same way that I find scientists who believe in god fascinating. Mystery and imagination on one side, peer-reviewed knowledge on the other. Blake's Los and Urizen head to head in the ring, or old pals shooting the shit on a park bench. Go hard enough in either direction and I believe you will come full circle: The natural cards revolving.