Saturday, 26 September 2009

The Gift

The witch moved through the wood. Silently and slowly, not looking for anything, not doing anything. Aimless. The path led where it would, up hill and down hill, through green tunnels and clearings. Time passed.

She found her gaze drawn by red, red berries. Hanging in great swathes from the branches of diminutive silver trees. Rowan, Witch Wood. She wanted witch wood, coveted it and desired it. What would she do to get it? Would she climb down dangerous slopes to get it? No.

On she went for today was not the day she would gain Rowan. The sunlight fell through the branches of pines to dapple soft moss. It blazed across the valley where the path moved out of shelter. Birds called in the distress, the meow of the Buzzard. Mushrooms grew in little puffy balls on the side of the path. Legless Lizards moved through the peaty soil, shy and secret.

She walked on till she neared a fork in the road and realised Rowan trees grew all round it. She scoured the trees for the merest offering off wood, but not a twig remained under the trees. Would she take living wood, wrenched from a living tree? No. But she was sorely tempted.

Her eye was caught by a tiny cluster of berries, fallen from the bough and caught beneath. She took them as a gift, generously given. They were not what she sought but no gift should be turned down, not when it is truly given. She gave silent thanks to the mother of the forest and turned to walk on.

It was then that her eye caught it. A branch, almost as big as her lay on the ground caught in the fork of the road. A few brown and wrinkly leaves remained but it was easy to see it was Witchen with it's silver bark marked with tiny black warts. She wanted wood for a wand. It would be her first but no wood had spoken to her or been gifted but here it was. At the base of the branch a short, thicker section hung by a thread. It was easily removed and would look pretty and work well for her.

She looked at the remaining branch and went to lay it down but hesitated. It did not do to hand back a gift. She striped it of twigs and leaves. She removed the rotten ends of the topmost reaches. A slender, bowed stick emerged with a fork. Not a stick but a stang. A true stang. Freely given by the Mother of the Forest, made of Wicken Tree with a fork. She had never had a stang before and here it was.

She smiled and walked on.