Tuesday, October 21, 2008

The Ivy’s embrace – Finsbury Park

Sunday October 19, 2008:

Ivy, or Heeder Helix known as girt in the Ogham alphabet is associated with the Fairy bride Guinevere yet the planetary relationship is to Persephone, queen of the underworld. The ivy wraps itself around anything in its path. Without such obstacles it must creep upon the ground.

Just after dawn, I stand by my rowan tree listening to the stirring of the day. All around me, along fences, the garden shed, the sturdy hornbeam, fighting with the wildly waving holly, embracing the sleeping concrete boar, comes the ivy, surreptitiously moving closer and closer.

I find an oak stripling, hugged close by the ivy. Carefully, I disentangle it from the vigorous thick fleshy tendrils, for the ivy is bigger than it. “Pick on someone your own size” I say, tossing the tendril away.

Later, I decide to reacquaint myself with knitting. In John Lewis’s I attend a knitting workshop, choose deep dark green as my wool and begin upon an open-knit scarf. Perhaps it would look good on the condemned hornbeam, I muse, and begin to knit love into the scarf and hope that the tree doesn’t mind the occasional dropped stitch, for I am but a novice at knitting. Later, as I successfully complete two inches of the scarf, my mind wanders to the possibility of knitting leaves …. Could I knit a tree someday?

A blustery warm South-Westerly pushes the leaves casually aside. The trees clatter softly, swaying in the breeze.

I climb behind the garden shed to where a spouting waterfall of green ivy spills over the retaining fence. I plunge myself into it, turn and pull it over me, like a great leafy blanket. I lean into its entwined strength, let it hold me with gentle cool hands. I breathe in its soft green freshness, sweet yet tangy. It lays its arms across my body; I allow the embrace, feel its tender tendrils, fragile yet firm against me.

“Spirit of ivy, I call to you” I breathe into the waving leaves. I wait, listening to the flip-flap-flip of the leaves shaking in the wind.

I am in a cool and leafy cave of ivy. Like a swimmer I strike out and plunge limbs through, pulling my body after, rolling from side to side as the vine curls about me detaining me yet allowing me to move. I lean into the thickness, rest up against its toughness, enfolded and cocooned.

My arms are full of the lightness of her body wrapped in a gossamer gown, leaning into me. And I see close too, the pointed heart shaped face, the tangle of dark hair lightly covered by the thrown back thin veil to reveal deep green eyes in a pale face, the ivy leaves twisted into a band across her brow like a thin crown. Tangled in the embrace, we hold each other with acceptance.

I lace my fingers in the ivy stems, trace the intricacies of each journey to meet and dance with another. I marvel at the twists and turns, the curling and darting of the plant; like nature’s knitting, she is ordered yet intricate, seemingly random yet purposefully spiralling.

And as I stroke and caressed, my fingers find something dry, warm and soft hidden amongst the tangle of stems. Gently I explore a cup shaped nest of dried grass held carefully in the encircling ivy. As big as my fist, the half sphere is hollowed in the middle, cradled and supported in the ivy stems.

What bird made this, I wonder as I explore the little neat secret nest, hidden among the dancing leaves. I feel sad that it is empty. What do I have that might fill it? I finger the green agate ring on my right hand. It is oval, set in two silver filigree hearts on a plain band. I slip it off and lie it down in the nest, bending to retrieve a round stone with which to secure it.

She flutters her thanks in silky leaf kisses against my cheeks. I sigh and breathe in her perfume and am at rest.

If I never moved again it wood be to soon, I think, breathing in her soft perfume. Missing me, perhaps someone might come by in a few weeks and find me, cocooned and still, judging by the look on my face, held forever in a dream of delight and peace.

“Beautiful Ivy, I wish I could stay here forever, but I can’t” I sigh, gently beginning to disentangle myself from her. Unwrapping and unravelling her, I drape the shed, fashion an arch between it and the fence, and suggest new and interesting routes for the ivy to follow as she encircles the garden.

I follow the tendrils as they entwine the three trunked pine that was once a huge tree. Now it is encased in ivy, soft and fluttering against its rough bark. All around, the twigs I planted a year ago are growing, a riot of leaves and slim branches, the ivy marching forth at their feet. Amongst the tangle, round stones placed to make a praying space poke out from beneath the newly fallen leaves. My love for the garden has been returned three-fold and more. I back gently out again and stand on the path. Bowing to the ivy, I whisper my thanks and reluctantly return to the world.


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