Meadow Fairies
Thinking about birds...

Lords and Ladies dancing in the woods...

Jack in the pulpit 1

Tilly and I, in our early morning woodland walks, were surprised when arum maculatum emerged in a spot where we've never seen the plants before -- and we've watched with fascination as they've slowly unfurled among the tree roots.

Jack in the pulpit

Jack in the pulpit 2

Folks here in Devon call the them Lords and Ladies; back in America I knew a similar plant as Jack in the Pulpit; other names include Angels and Devils, Bobbins, Wake Robin, and Naked Boys. They are extraordinary little presences, bustling through the leaf mulch with purpose, spirit, and vitality.

Jack in the Pulpit 3

The surprise of their emergence, and the grace of their unfolding, has put me in mind of a favorite passage from Gary Snyder's gorgeous book The Practice of the Wild (which, along with Lewis Hyde's The Gift, and David Abram's Spell of the Sensuous, was a deeply influential text for me):

"There is a point beyond which training and practice cannot take you," he writes. "Zeami, the 14th century Noh drama playwright and director who was also a Zen priest, spoke of this moment as 'surprise.' This is the surprise of discovering oneself needing no self, one with the work, moving in disciplined ease and grace. One knows what it is to be a spinning ball of clay, a curl of pure while wood off the edge of a chisel... At this point one can be free, with the work and from the work."

As free as Lords and Ladies dancing in the woodland. That would be a good work day indeed.

Jack in the pulpit 4

Fairies dancing by Richard DoyleFairies dancing under the leaves, by the Victorian painter Richard Doyle (1824-1883)

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