There is a lichen – Lobaria pulmonaria – also known as ‘Tree Lungwort’ – which lives in the depths of the forest. It needs mature trees to establish itself and damp conditions away from drying winds, so small woodlands are of no use to it. It is rare in Britain because the habitat it needs is also rare. She is a faërie thing. Old, mysterious and of a time that is passing. Yet she lingers in the dark woodland whispering her spells when the moonlight filters down through the trees.
Can such things be found in the town, in a cul-de-sac or in the quiet corner of a park? Perhaps, but she would bid you follow her to where greenthinks are the thoughts that matter. To a place where such a lichen or a rare liverwort that needs the rotting trunks of dead trees to live its life, or other such green things can have their existence. Where water trickles through moss and filmy ferns to a moonlit stream. Moonthinks to the green things; To the old world which is still ever young; To the realm of Faery.
Some days I see birds like buzzards and herons and I see them for their wildlife interest, as fellow creatures inhabiting the Earth . But sometimes they take on a greater significance. Birds and other creatures have also been seen as omens, spirit guides, otherworld messengers who speak to humans indirectly by their actions. Today a buzzard dipped as it flew across my path, then turned and flew back doing the same thing. I stopped and watched it as it perched on a tree looking back at me. What was its message? I didn't know, but I felt sure that I had to acknowledge the communication. Later, coming back along the same path, the buzzard again flew across, banking to one side in front of me before winging across a field to some nearby woodland.
I remember once hearing the phrase "there is another world but it is this one" and such experiences reinforce the sense of an Otherworld immanent in Nature all around us.
But how to hear the buzzard's message, go where the heron beckons, acknowledge the owl's call, find the gateway to the Otherworld from the winding path through the wood, or where the water trickles down a mossy bank? I don't know. But I do know that I have been there, unexpectedly, slipping through almost unconsciously with a sideways step off the path. But if you will it too strongly the path avoids the place and you come to the edge of the wood all too soon before the sideways step can be taken.
Such cold clear days in the morning
Such sunny afternoons
and at night such stars.
So it goes so far this March. The wand of Winter is still held over the land. The Faery Court is held between bare sticks of last year's growth, pale stems of dry herbs, withered flowers. Here and there a celandine shows yellow, and, in the garden, crocuses join the snowdrops as harbingers of Spring. As for the Faery Court, held in such evanescence of growth, they remain invisible to human eyes and even to the most sensitive of souls. But we yearn for them just as they reach out to the green that is to come. Then they may be glimpsed among the ferns. For now they are a green echo in a brown and straw-bleached land.
As the weather changes (as it does constantly in this Isle of Faery):
Such misty drifting on the slopes of morning
Such cloudy skies as the day goes on
and at night the skies are a canopy through which the distant stars are barely glimpsed.
My love for the land in all its moods is absolute. Nothing would I hold back from dedication to Nature in all her moods come rain or shine.
But now, in this time of transition, I yearn for the return of the Queen of Faery and all her crew.