O open up your heartwood to us will you, willow,
show your deep within, your rough without,
your water-brushing bough, your shoot, your grain, your knot?
(Macfarlane & Morris, 2017)
Back home, with our feet firmly on the ground again, I drive across the misty Somerset Levels. Her pollard willows are a feature of this flat iron landscape. Traces of the ancient craft survive and willow beds are tended and harvested for fences and hampers and coffins. It is a renewable, sustainable raw material. The stubby trunks line the ditches and rhynes that march across the levels and moors. They sprout bright new growth: gelled up hair, standing in surprise.
And between the willows, small gangs of 'ghostly swirling surging whirling melting' starlings (Macfarlane & Morris, 2017) are arrowing to their feeding or roosting grounds. They are gathering on the wires and in the trees, expectant.
Let the murmurations begin!
(Macfarlane, R & Morris, J, 2017, The Lost Words, Penguin Random House UK)