February 14, 2008
My mom, avid blogger that she is, sent me a link last night to one of her favourite reads, Dave Bonta, because she thought I would enjoy his piece about hawthorns. I loved Dave's piece about his secret hawthorn place, which brought back powerful memories for me of all the hidden places I knew so well in the many wild, wooded areas near my childhood home. (Most of those trees, brooks and gullies are lost to housing developments now.) I immediately replied to my mom, who insisted I post this as a response to Dave and for the rest of you to enjoy. Dave, thank you, I hope my readers find as much magic in your post and the adolescent dreaming it revives as I did.
I was immediately hooked by Dave's stunning first photo, stark yet ethereal, and his use of the word "thicket". My favourite patch of hawthorns is in a thicket down on Stoney Flats about a half hour walk from here, which no other word could better describe, but it's a fairy-tale kind of word, not used much any more by our urban society. Perhaps only a writer (and reader of fairytales) could understand the pleasure I got from just being able to use the word thicket, the first time I saw one after moving here. I really envy his childhood exploration of such wild and secret places, more rare every day it seems. Makes me want to get out the snowshoes and hike down to the thicket, find a way through the fence and into the midst of its two-inch-long thorns and ancient interlocking boughs. Only it's melting here, not snow-shoeing weather at all, slushy/icy with two feet of snow with nothing to absorb it, overcast and damp, neither winter nor spring. And to get in there, you'd have to be a bird - no charcoal makers here. But Dave's piece has inspired memory, which is often more mysterious than the real thing.
These days I'm seeking my muse, hoping to get back into "writing mode", as I call it, starting with dusting off my antennae. First opening the eyes and ears, to things like hawthorn thickets and rumours of spring, and then giving my thoughts voice, rusty and awkward or not. I find it harder and harder, especially when this stressed. Treating myself to books and a new camera (and planning for gardening season) should help.
Letting my mind wander after reading Dave's post, I had an urge to read the Grimm's version of Sleeping Beauty (and listen to Tchaikovsky). When she and the castle fall asleep, the thicket that grows around the castle is a briar hedge of roses and thorns, which attack any who try to cut their way through it, until her prince arrives. And then there's Rapunzel, the variant I know had a thicket too, where the newly rescued Rapunzel then gets trapped until her hair regrows down to the ground like a cloak, while her blinded lover wanders a wasteland searching for her. They knew the mysteries of thickets, mystic clearings, dense forest places in the old tales I grew up reading. It was easy to translate that feeling into the hemlock, vine maple, cedar and salmonberry woods I grew up with, and even easier here on the border between arid grasslands and wooded hills, where almost everything wild has thorns, and at the same time fragrant flowers. Kind of plain in summer, but beautiful and powerful in winter when simplified to their essence by snow.
My desktop photo right now is the small thicket of hawthorn, wild rose and poplar, fenced in with logs and barbed wire, that starts at the upper end of my street. I posted it here on Boxing Day. Do read Dave's post if you get a chance, and if you love trees, check out the monthly Festival of Trees he refers to, which compile more links that you'd think possible of beautiful images and words about all kinds of trees, from the scientific to the mystic. Enjoy.
Posted by anita at February 14, 2008 12:31 PM