A rowan in the University Parks, Oxford

Years ago, I travelled to Reykjavík and spent some time staying with anarchists and activists in the city. I remember the sulphuric smell of the hot springs, the brightly-painted corrugated metal houses, and the thrill of trying to speak a language closely related to the Old Norse I’d been reading the year before. But most of all, I remember the rowan trees, and the brightness of the ripening berries against a backdrop of shadowy spruce. In the parks today, where the rowan berries are still in their infancy, I saw this young tree from far away, its fruit already a vivid red against the blue. It created a peculiar confluence of memory and imagination, and the traces of an ancient druidic past dormant somewhere in the blood flamed for a moment, then faded.

Today is a hot day, not one for hard work outside, but for looking out from the garret, meditating on the abundance of the garden in the July sun, and pinning those peculiar hypnagogic visions of a drowsy day down on paper like collected insects on a card. Writing is alive but written things are only relics. They shouldn’t be worshipped too much, at the expense of the things that made them.