Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Wind dancing, the jigging willows and the drums – Broadoak, Dorset

Tuesday August 12 - , Thursday August 14, 2008:

The wind flung out its arms and charged across the field roaring. Seizing great big tents by the scruff of their necks, it shook them ferociously, dislodging pegs and ropes, sending damp occupants scurrying from under bright splashes of wet flapping nylon.

The slate grey sky hung low on the top of the hedgerow. The long grass bowed low by the weight of the insistent rain was knotted and matted. The elements were making their presence felt and the only thing to do was to join in the headlong riot.

Seizing my companion’s hand, I pulled him into the swirling, circling dance. We flung out our arms, throwing our heads back and began to sing to the wind. It snatched our song and tossed it high into the air. But it could not stop us singing.

A bird chirruped clearly in the teeth of the storm and suddenly there was stillness, a momentary lull in the gale before it began again, only this time not quite as strong as before. Had we appeased the weather spirits?

The marquee was dancing a wild fandango. Great flaps of wet canvas slapped and flipped. We sat in a circle, watching from the corner of our minds eye who knows what. I know what I found. A dark presence, with wild black hair, a swarthy face, a small fist clutching a light coloured stone which, when I accepted it, turned out to be heavy and a dull gold and which disappeared when I put it in my pocket.

But the wind called me outside. In a circle of willows, I danced with the central one. She perhaps about eight feet tall, waved and swayed frenziedly. I hopped about in front of her, reaching out from time to time to stroke her graceful limbs and feathery leaves. She was so beautiful; I didn’t want to leave her. But the circle of willows was calling me to dance.

I capered about the circle, playfully tousling the long grass, weaving in and out of the trees. And all around me, out of the corner of my minds eye, I saw small beings dancing amongst the long grass, as high to them as a forest. Lost in my dance, I forgot the time and would have remained there had my companion not dragged me back to the can-canning marquee.

The sweetly sour smell of crushed grass assailed my nostrils. I breathed deeply as my drumstick hit the taught skin of my remo. “Boom-boom, ha boom-boom; boom-boom, ha boom-boom …” sang out my drum. I began to rock as out of the depths of the marquee energies came to dance with the dancers and bears, stags, wolves, butterflies and all manner of creatures claimed the grassed dance floor.

Blackbird Owl soared up to the top of the marquee and looked down upon the scene. Dancers and their totems moved in a never-ending swirl of limbs. In the shadows other small creatures danced.

Blackbird Owl flew out of the marquee and across the field. The oaks in the centre swayed in time to the beat, the very hedgerows shimmered and in every corner, the folk danced in and out of the rocking branches. She circled the central fire pit and watched non-dancers, swaying and moving, their eyes on nothing and everything ahead of them.

Blackbird Owl called to the twilight, a crescent of sweet fluting that echoed across the field and made the dancing ones turn. Lowering her head, she soared back into the marquee.

“Boom-boom, ha boom-boom; boom-boom, ha boom-boom …” I rocked on my chair as the rhythm pulsed through me. And then, like a swooping bird, the drumming slowly diminished. Across the cross beats came the call to close and we came to stillness, only the rasping breath of the dancers punctuating the quiet air.


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