It’s good to think of Hannibal as we leave the Winter Solstice behind. Well, at least remember the Great Stag who witnesses Björkar. Birches. Member of the Betulaceae family. Deciduous hardwood. Dropping what is no longer needed. The falling away of what no longer fits. Dark horizontal lines on white, paper-thin plates. You can peel a birch like peeling an onion. Turn of the year–time to shed some skin, maybe take off a mask or two.
Betula pendula in Sweden. The Ornäs birch is the national tree of Sweden. When I walk into my local, little slice of the Nacka Reserve they greet me as I descend to Långsjön. Birches appear in songs and stories of the Tír na nÓg and the Sidhe in Celtic Mythology. Appropriate as I stand on rock as mush as two thousand million years old, and look to the left. Note a bit of mist between land and water. Days at the end of December and days at the beginning of January, a threshold if you will, doorway between two years and two worlds.
And a look to the right. Ever leafless as winter extends its hold, their silver-white bark stands out from the constantly green needles of pine and spruce.
A closer look reveals how they blur with the world round as moss, which gathers everywhere around the lake, moves up the trees. A fusing of green and white, meeting of stem and roots with singular layers of cells. Not only on birches, but the conifers and lonely boulders as well. Mosses are the faeries of the forest. And when the Janus-faced month appears, well anything becomes possible.
I find birches fallen and beginning the slow roll to decay and transformation.
I find birches curling out of slanting soil toward the lake and out into the blue, ever-searching for the sun.
Rooted to moss, fern, bedrock and soil or the above stretching up through a birch into air and into light.
If birches make paths to other worlds, Bjork’s music opens up the world inside to paths on the ground and in the air.
We live on a mountain
Right at the top
There’s a beautiful view
From the top of the mountain
Every morning I walk towards the edge
And throw little things off
Like: car-parts, bottles and cutlery
Or whatever I find lying around
The lyrics take us into the objects constructing our inner worlds as well as outer, and her habit which she sings looks so much like a ritual of discarding what makes us and yet we don’t need, and in fact may keep us from connecting with others or even being safe with ourselves and someone else. And then the edge of abyss suggests something further to throw. So much to throw off a cliff at the end and beginning of a year.
It’s early morning
No-one is awake
I’m back at my cliff
Still throwing things off
I listen to the sounds they make
On their way down
I follow with my eyes ’til they crash
I imagine what my body would sound like
Slamming up against those rocks
And at the bottom do our eyes stayed closed or do they open? Is this a crossing-over to someone deeper, further? The song keeps its mystery close. Time for a meal from inside, not just flesh and muscle on the bone. Something deeper. Something truer for the new year. Time for Calf’s Liver.
With a look of a forest, calf’s liver sautéed in butter, of course with a toss of salt and pepper; covered with equally sautéed onions and chopped parsley and placed on toasted brown bread provides quite the lunch repast. The taste has a tinge of dark and light; taste of blood and what passed through this animal’s life and digestive system. Or if breakfast is the moment . . . .
Think of Morphic resonance. Memories of cells, tissues and organs. Memories of birch trees in my grandparents’ backyard in Michigan. Memories of reading Yeats’ poems from The Wind Among The Reeds in an efficiency apartment in Detroit. Memories of homo sapiens, homo heidelbergensis and homo erectus. Memories of listening to Björk in a blue Volkswagon Rabbit late at night in Windsor, Canada. Memory of my mother eating liver in a Ponderosa in 1975. All shimmering and vibrating deep inside me. Ah, the taste of liver. Bon Appétit!