A crab apple tree grows by a footpath near my house. Bramble tendrils mount its top branches and hang down. They take root again in the earth below the tree. They’re long and supple, like a coachman’s whip. The ground is muddy and damp.
In this thicket melting snow rests, in patches, on hawthorn and blackthorn. Dark berries of ivy shrivel as the days lengthen. When the traffic pauses, birdsong is plentiful. In this hedgerow the prickles are vicious. In the sloe bushes they are like needles.
I think of an enchanted castle surrounded by an impenetrable barrier of thorns. I think of the thorns and thistles which met the exiles from Eden; and of a prince who rescued the sleeping girl and the Prince who rescued the sons of Adam and daughters of Eve.
I pause, with my stick, to cross the road. I hesitate. A man in a white van stops for me: a moment of ‘courtesie’ I think, not from a white knight but a white van
At times the undergrowth is dense. There is little light. We’ll get there, I do trust. But we’re not out of the wood yet.