fresh green leaves

The Bog “I Don’t Know What To Do With My Hands” King

@dainesanddaffodils I tried to make you something nice and Springtime for your birthday, but this will have to do. I almost completely forgot the wings and that is why they look terrible.

Sorrow prepares you for joy. It violently sweeps everything out of your house, so that new joy can find space to enter. It shakes the yellow leaves from the bough of your heart, so that fresh, green leaves can grow in their place. It pulls up the rotten roots, so that new roots hidden beneath have room to grow. Whatever sorrow shakes from your heart, far better things will take their place.
—  Rumi

Significant Weather Advisory 

by reddit user OtistheWriter

I hate thunderstorms in the Midwest, mainly because they bring with them a threat of real danger. In southern Nebraska we’ve been known to have tornados somewhat regularly, ugly black funnels that drop from the sky and ruin your life. 

That is, if you lived in my neighbors house in 1997, when I was a teenager. I’m referring to a family of three just several homes down. Family friends and caretakers of our corgi while we were on vacation, they helped our street feel like home. Then the storm came and everything changed.

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This tea is awful. It’s fucking disgusting. Don’t believe that lazy shit idyllic pastoral landscape on the goddamn cardboard box. It’s a damn lie and if you drink this tea you’ll know the heart of minty darkness

Like OK I appreciate that it tries to prepare you for whats inside by a cute picture on the box. Fresh green mint leaves, and some candy cane sticks to get you in that shitty assfaced Christmas mood. Look it’s even tied with a repugnant little red bow. fuck this tea.

So if you open the box and immediately steep a cup prepare to get one of those cute lil candy canes up your FUCKING NOSE and in your FUCKING EYES because this shit doesn’t know personal space in the same way a demon from hell doesn’t know a loving God.

I hope you like drinking your throat lozenges because here’s a blistering stream an actual menthol golem would piss down your fucking throat while you gag on its candy-striped wiener. 

So you lock this shit in a box for 3 months while you recover from the worst toothpaste-flavored blowjob of your life and maybe get yourself together again. You recover. You move on. Things are looking pretty up and you think back, well maybe that godforsaken tea didn’t really taste like a peppermint Siberia. So you make a cup like the foolish piece of shit you are

and you’re right, but so wrong about the character and nature of your mistake you might as well star in Greek tragedy. You pathetic bag of bollocks.

because in the months its been locked in a top-shelf tomb the life and vehement mint-based hatred for the physical world has withered and desiccated out of its soulless teabag husks.

Now what you have got in your fucking unfortunate mug is a hot steaming cup of fuck you that tastes like the inside of the birch tree on the fucking box, or maybe Santa’s tears mixed with mummy dust, or midwinter leaf litter a vaguely minty dog only rolled in once.

The aftertaste stinks of wax. Why wax? Because it wants to remind you that you’re the kid who ate birthday candles in first grade, that’s why. And every single other bad decision you now regret.

fuck this tea. fuck it, it tastes like a hollow  mannequin of a tea, hot leaf swill unfit to fertilize even fake fucking flowers.Maybe you could tan leather in it. I don’t fucking know but get it away from me and the human race. Fucking shoot it at the moon where it belongs with all of the other celestial fucking seasonings. fuck

“Sorrow prepares you for joy. It violently sweeps everything out of your house, so that new joy can find space to enter. It shakes the yellow leaves from the bough of your heart, so that fresh, green leaves can grow in their place. It pulls up the rotten roots, so that new roots hidden beneath have room to grow. Whatever sorrow shakes from your heart, far better things will take their place.”   

~ Rumi

~ Art Jerry Uelsmann

~ Animation George RedHawk

~ Full Moon Blessings Al ~ Just Being

This Is How It Starts, Our Life Together | Act 1 | Various x MC

Week 1 

Thursday:  Act 1

i.

The trouble is Lord Mitsuhide doesn’t feel sensible around you. Not when you’re pouring his tea and leaning over him, the smell of fresh green leaves in spring tickling his nose. Why Lord Nobunaga would think this a good idea, he’ll never know, only that he’s now stuck between a rock and a hard place working in close proximity with you. A thrill courses through him, but that’s to be expected after five consecutive days together.

“Milord, may I start collating these files?”

When you both look up he feels himself slipping. His gaze sinks to the papers in his hands. He can’t let you know. He’s a gentleman. The perfect gentleman.

“Of course. Thank you.”

But he’s not privy to your thoughts, and if he could comprehend the state you’re in, he would drop those files and run out the door. Or drop those files and run to you. A buzzing under your skin races along your nerves, slithering and swirling through your system, to make an odd, tingling warmth in your stomach. Watching him melts your brain to soup.

You want to slip your sandal off and trail your socked toes up and down his thigh, where his hands perch lazily atop, drumming absentmindedly. You want to slide your fingers under the crisp fabric of his kimono and run your fingers across the muscle and veins and feel the beating pulse under your thumb. But most of all, you want to drag his mouth down and kiss that soft, dissolute mouth senseless.

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4

Herb: Larrea tridentata, sometimes called Larrea mexicana

Common names: Chaparral, creosote bush, la gobernadora, hedionillo, medicine chest

Called creosote because it smells like the tar derivative also called creosote.

Family: Zygophyllaceae, also called caltrops. It is related to Guaiacum and Tribulus terrestris (also called puncturevine)

Warnings and Cautions: Rare reports of serious liver disease have been associated with internal use and ingestion of creosote. Seek advice from a professional health care practitioner before use and, in doing so, inform them if you have had or are at risk for liver disease, kidney disease, or if you frequently imbibe alcoholic beverages, or are using any medications. Discontinue use and seek a physician if vomiting, fever, fatigue, abdominal pain, loss of appetite, or jaundice (e.g. dark urine, pale stools, yellow discoloration of the eyes) occur. This is herb is NOT safe to be used during pregnancy.

Interesting facts: There is a creosote colony in the Mojave Desert called the “King Clone” that is 11,700 years old. Creosote is one of the oldest living organisms on Earth (as far as measuring this type of thing goes).

Creosote grows in colonies – rings of plants that sprout up from an underground root system that are genetically identical clones of the original plants.

Botanical Description: Larrea tridentata is a variably sized shrub with tiny evergreen dark green leaves. The resinous leaves are compound and opposite, with two leaflets attached to each other at the base. The flowers are shiny yellow with five petals, many to a branch. The fruit is a capsule densely covered in white hairs, which look like fluffy puff balls.

Wildcrafting Tips: Creosote is often one of the dominant plant where it grows. There are often huge colonies of it scattered through an area. Look for plants that have more young growth, which is a brighter green color and has a strong resinous smell. Cut areas of the plant where the stem is flexible, not hard and woody, and where the leaves are waxy or oily to the touch, preferably those which leave a faint residue on your fingertips if you rub the small leaves between the pads of your fingers. The best creosote to harvest is found in washes between the mesas of the desert, where water runs down into stream beds which quickly dry up. Do not pick plants alongside roads, as these are not safe for use.

Collect the bundles by either snapping off the flexible stems where they join the woody branches or using pruning shears. Creosote is not so woody as to require heavy duty loppers. Gather onto a laid out flat breathable cloth, such as cotton broadcloth or burlap or muslin, and roll up to transport. You will lose some leaves, but these can be gathered from the cloth.

Once to your bundling location, unroll and leave the plant flat on the breathable cloth for a day or so, flipping over occasionally, then bundle.

Creosote can mold, so please dry a little before bundling, to prevent the inner part of the bundle from moldering and the entire bundle from becoming unusable.

Caution: the smell of creosote as is it drying or being bundled is intense and will easily fill a small room. Some persons I have wildcrafted with have reported feeling dizzy, lightheaded, or nauseated from the aromatic oils in the air, so please keep that in mind.

Parts Used: The fresh green leaves or the green leaves once dried, the waxy yellow flowers, and the greener stems are all used for magickal and medicinal purposes. The woody stems are used for ceremonial fires, but caution, as creosote is mildly psychoactive and the fires may cause reactions varying from dizziness, nausea, lightheadedness, a feeling of floating, or even mild hallucinations. Of course, allergic reactions may also occur from breathing in the smoke, so start with small amounts and watch for difficulty breathing and itching of the skin, mouth, nose, and throat.

Medicinal Uses: Larrea tridentata is poisonous in larger doses. Please be cautious. There are multiple reports of serious poisoning, acute hepatitis, kidney and liver damage, up to kidney and liver failure, many of which were the result of using creosote preparations that were not properly diluted or which were taken too often. Do not take at the same time as hepatotoxic drugs or alongside large amounts of pain killers such as aspirin.

Creosote can cause severe stomach pain, nausea, diarrhea, weight loss, and fever. Putting creosote on the skin can cause skin reactions, including photo-sensitivity, rash, and itching.

An important consideration with creosote is that the plant is very bitter and the taste and smell are quite potent. So when deciding whether to use this as an herbal remedy, make sure the person it is being prepared for can tolerate the smell and taste. I do not recommend you attempt to improve the taste with large amounts of honey, agave, or sugar, as this just makes the strong taste saccharine with an intensely bitter aftertaste.

First Nations peoples of the Southwestern deserts of the United States have used this plant in teas, tinctures, and salves, as a poultice to retard bacterial growth, as an emetic, expectorant, and diuretic to treat venereal disease, tuberculosis, bowel cramps, and rheumatism (Kearney and others 1951, Mabry and others 1977)

It has been used as a herbal treatment for stiff limbs, open sores, snakebites, menstrual cramps, and poxes (Bowers and Wignall 1993, Mabry and others 1977)

The Breast Cancer Research and Treatment study in 2005 showed that the antioxidant compound, nordihydroguaiaretic acid (NDGA) inhibits the IGF-1 and c-erbB2/HER2/neu receptors and suppresses growth in breast cancer cells. (Youngren, J.F., Gable, K., Penaranda, C. et al. Breast Cancer Res Treat (2005) 94: 37.) Of course, this would be in a professional medicinal environment with controlled injections of an extracted compound – no amount of ingesting creosote will cure cancer, though it may kill you with liver or kidney failure.

Creosote is antimicrobial and anti-fungal, it has through time been used to prevent infections due to cuts, burns, and bites, and also those internal caused by pathogens and parasites entering the body.

Creosote is used internally to inhibit the growth of fibroids.

Creosote contains lignans that are very similar to estrogen, giving it an effect on the skin similar to that of soy taken internally.

According to an ethno-botanist of field studies for the herbal program at the Southwest Institute of Healing Arts, the Pima people of central Arizona would use just an inch or so of fresh creosote dropped in water as a cleansing drink, to flush a variety of fungal or parasitic microbials from the body, as well as for its antioxidant properties.

It is a very strong liver stimulant, and so should not be used by individuals with liver disease such as cirrhosis or hepatitis.

The main way I use creosote is to help prevent and kill a number of infectious organisms. These include bacteria, fungi, and protozoa. I mix creosote with myrrh and dragon’s blood resin, for I find it is not strong enough many times on its own. I do not recommend creosote for staphylococcus aureus.  It often works okay for fungal skin infections such as athlete’s foot.

For athlete’s food and similar, if the infection is on an area you can put into wash basin (i.e., hands and feet), simply soak the infected area in a very strong hot water infusion of creosote. If it cannot be soaked, use a hot compress. Afterward, I would recommend that you alternate between remedies (see Recommended Combinations below). Apply the Larrea tincture directly on the wound and/or put it on a gauze pad which is then held in place. With these types of infections, please also consider community protection and telling the infected person that they are contagious. And you and they both need to cleanse yourselves thoroughly after handling the infected area.

Creosote can also be used to treat infectious gut organisms. I recommend seeking a medical opinion on whether it is a gut infection or a non-infectious disorder, such as irritable bowel syndrome. Also, it can be difficult to know which type of infectious organism. Giardia, for example, can infect a person who drank contaminated water, and can be treated with a combination of creosote, parsley, wormwood, and black walnut.

Aching muscles can also be treated with creosote, specifically those associated with stress and stress related nervous pain.

The dried plant when powdered has been used by many First Nation people of the Southwest as an effective deodorant. A tincture of creosote combined with a tincture of witch hazel makes a wonderful deodorant that smells like rain, but do not wear it with white clothing – it turns everything greenish yellow.

Creosote is also used to relieve itching, though obviously not in those who find it causes itching, and it provides a protective moisture barrier even after it dries.

Medicinal Preparations: The part of this plant used medicinally is the leaves, though if you have some of the flexible green branches, the yellow waxy flowers, or the fluffy seed capsules in with them it will not hurt the medicine. The leaf can be used either fresh or dried, as there is not that much water in them to begin with, but you should not use leaves that were brown and desiccated on the plant.

Due to the antioxidant properties of this plant, most of these preparations will have a longer shelf life than medicines made from other plants, but beware that for tinctures or other infusions that keep the plant in the substance being infused, too strong of an infusion is dangerous, so remove the plant matter before storing.

My favorite delivery mechanism of the medicine of creosote is also one of the easiest to prepare. A sprig in cold water, used all day, as a cleansing tonic drink is my favorite. Just refill the same bottle throughout the day.

I also like making salves with the infused oil. For this either fresh or dried plant can be used, but if you have access to the fresh, it is much preferable. It relieves stinging and itching of cuts and seals them with a protective barrier. It is also quite useful topically as a treatment for the herpes viruses, including cold sores, herpes simplex, and chicken pox.

Tincture: Prepare the tincture with 180 proof food grade clear alcohol at about 1:2, or as close to this as you can get while still having the leaves covered by the menstruum and ideally to a few inches above it. Infuse in the cool alcohol in a dark, cool place for one week, then strain the plant matter and discard it or compost it.

Dosage with Tincture: When treating an acute infection or parasitic infestation, as with something brought on by ‘bad’ food or water (such as drinking water in the mountains) use a large loading dose, then taper down. A 110 pound person can start with about 4 ml in their first dosage, then taper down to about 2.5 ml every four to six hours for approximately 48 hours, then to about 1.25 ml for the next 48 hours. I recommend combining this with activated charcoal, and for serious infectious gut parasites (like giardia) with wormwood, parsley, and black walnut as well.

Infused oil: Add the green, fresh leaves or lightly dried leaves to good extra virgin olive oil (I recommend the stuff coming out of California right now). Cover the leaves with the oil, ideally to a few inches above them. Lett this sit in a cool, dark place for at least two weeks.  Since they resist mold, you can let the leaves stay in the oil for a longer period of time than most plants. The oil alone, or combined with other plants, can be applied directly to wounds as an antiseptic. Creosote is also naturally antioxidant, so the constituents stabilize the infused oil, so by adding the creosote oil into other oils or salves, it will slow down their rate of rancidity and give them a longer shelf life. It will be strongly scented, however, so if you don’t want the damp rain and earth smell of creosote in your other oils, you may wish to refrain and find another method of giving them added longevity.

Salves: Solidify the infused oil by adding beeswax or cocoa butter, or your preferred combination of the two, in a double boiler, then decant into a sterile salve container.

Tea: For creosote, I recommend a hot water infusion (hot water poured over the plant) rather than a decoction (plant matter cooked in the hot water). Remember that if this is for drinking, an inch long section of the plant is plenty for an entire day, and may be too much, as it is very strong tasting.

Honey: I recommend using raw honey, as non-raw honey is less helpful for anti-microbial uses. To get the honey to extract the volatile constituents from the creosote, warm the honey til it is liquid enough to allow movement, but do not simmer it, as then it is no longer raw. Cover the plant matter with warm honey to the point where the honey is a few inches above the plant matter. Allow to sit for one week, then strain the plant matter out and discard or compost it. This is better as a burn or skin infection medicine for external use than it is for internal use, for which I would not recommend it.

Compress: A compress comes from dipping a clean cloth (preferably cotton or silk) in a water infusion of the plant matter – the infusion in this case is a slightly stronger hot water infusion than the one described above for internal use tea. I would recommend the compresses for athletes foot and other minor skin infections. Creosote compresses are especially helpful when you cannot directly soak the affected area. You can also soak a bandage with the tea (or tincture), though I do not recommend keeping an open wound damp for very long. I do not use creosote as a poultice, where the plant matter is macerated and then applied directly to a wound, as it is so very strong and can cause skin irritation.

Soak: Simply add creosote to hot water. For something the size of a foot or hand, you can add a few inches of the plant. Do not scale up past a five inch by one inch bundle for the entire body, especially as it can be absorbed through mucous membranes and cause irritation.

Common Combinations:

Antimicrobials:

Echinacea (Echinacea spp.)

Goldenseal (Hydrastis canadensis)

Parsley (Petroselinum crispum)

Black Walnut (Juglans nigra)

Willow (Salix spp.) (good for pain as well)

Yarrow (Achillea millefolium)

Dragon’s Blood (Daemonorops draco or Dracaena cinnabari or Croton lechleri)

Turmeric (Curcuma longa)

Licorice (Glycyrrhiza spp.)

Antiinflammatories:

Arnica (Arnica spp.)

Yarrow (Achillea millefolium)

Willow (Salix spp.)

Turmeric (Curcuma longa)

Licorice (Glycyrrhiza spp.)

Astringents:

Anemopsis californica (Yerba mansa)

Oak (Quercus spp.)

Witch hazel (Hamamelis virginiana)

Geranium root (Geranium maculatum)

Black Horehound (Ballota nigra)

Vulneraries:

Calendula (Calendula officinalis)

Yarrow (Achillea millefolium)

St. Johnswort (Hypericum perforatum)


Extracting the Essential Oil: I recommend the enfleurage method to get the oils out of the leaves without destroying them.

You will need:

Only the freshest, newest leaves, from a period in the harvest season where the leaves are green and have an oily sheen that coats the fingers

Organic vegetable fat

A sterilized glass plate

Plastic wrap

A spoon

Sterilized mason jars

Strong, clear alcohol of 180 proof or higher (everclear, moonshine, etc)

Steps:

Spread a thin coat of new, organic vegetable fat on the sterilized glass plate and lay the leaves on the fat. Cover the combination with plastic wrap to make the plate air tight. Then store this in a cool, dark location for 48 to 72 hours. The oils will infuse the fat.

Strain the leaves from the fat and discard or compost. Spoon the infused fat into the sterilized mason jars and spread it out on the inside, exposing as much surface area of the fat as possible.

Pour the clear, strong alcohol into the jars, covering the fat. Cover and seal the jars.

Let the jars stand in the refrigerator for 24 to 48 hours - this extracts the oil from the fat (pouring vodka directly on the leaves will destroy them and will not extract the oils)

move the liquid to another steralized jar

allow that to rest for 24 hours, refrigerated - this will allow the oil to separate from the alcohol

siphon the separated oil from the alcohol

bottle in sterilized, air-tight, dark glass bottles - the oil should last you at least five years, unless, of course, you use it all first or it turns sour due to some contaminant

Other Uses:

Waterproofing

The waxy sap from the bush can be released by simmering the stalks, including the woody ones, in water. The resin is then applied to wooden tools, like arrows or bowls, for water-proofing. Do not waterproof using creosote anything intended for food storage or ingestion, as ingestion of the oils is toxic in large enough amounts.

Dehydration

Creosote branches were stored by First Nations persons in grain bins and other food storage areas to keep the moisture out and preserving the food. Sometimes, the leaves from the bush were mixed in with the grains to further the process.

Magickal Uses: Creosote has traditionally been used for cleansing ritual fires that have a psychotropic affect, including dizziness, lightheadedness, mild euphoria, and loss of consciousness. Do not burn the leaves or branches unless you are outdoors or in a very well ventilated area, as too much of the fumes being inhaled can be toxic and deadly.

It can be used for pre-ritual or post-ritual cleansing and grounding baths.

It is excellent for spells of survival, permanence, and stability, as it is one of the oldest known plant forms – ancient beyond even the redwood. It survives in some of the harshest environmental conditions on the planet: below freezing temperatures in the winter, temperatures about 100 degrees Fahrenheit in the summer, and less than 10 inches of rain per year in extremely nutrient deficient sandy soil.

It is also an excellent warding plant. Note that not much else grows around it in the desert, even when it grows where water flows. It defends its territory well, in colonies that are self-supporting.

Creosote can also be used in spells to connect people who live far away from each other. As the colonies grow in cloning rings, distant but still connected, so bundles can be used as a connecting force.


Please note that Haven Craft teaches the traditional uses of herbs. Statements made by Haven Craft regarding the benefits of an herb have not been evaluated by the food and drug administration, as the FDA does not evaluate or test herbs. This information has not been evaluated by the US Food and Drug Administration, nor has it gone through the rigorous double-blind studies required before a particular product can be deemed truly beneficial or potentially dangerous and prescribed in the treatment of any condition or disease.

The information presented by Haven Craft is provided for informational purposes only, it is not meant to substitute for medical advice or diagnosis provided by your physician or other medical professional. Do not use this information to diagnose, treat or cure any illness or health condition. If you have, or suspect that you have a medical problem, contact your physician or health care provider.

“Sorrow prepares you for joy. It violently sweeps everything out of your house, so that new joy can find space to enter. It shakes the yellow leaves from the bough of your heart, so that fresh, green leaves can grow in their place. It pulls up the rotten roots, so that new roots hidden beneath have room to grow. Whatever sorrow shakes from your heart, far better things will take their place.”  
~ Jalaluddin Rumi

~ Art Cameron Gray

~ Animation George RedHawk

a bit more spacedogs faery au

for @theseavoices and to go with her perfect hannigram spacedogs art (which you can see with part one - link below)

thanks to all who left kind comments - i know @devereauxsdisease @fragile-teacup @pangaeastarseed in particular asked for more, so here it is :)

*

part one over here

The journey was a long one. Nigel knew how to use vines and tendrils, the fissures in the bark, to move as he wished through the tree. But the little faery - Adam - was much more unsure.

He worried the vines would snap, or the bark would crumble. The higher they went, the more afraid he was to fall. In the end, Nigel showed him how the plants obeyed him - when he reached out a hand, a creeper reached back and wound itself around securely around his wrist.

“All the things which call this tree home,” Nigel said, “must answer to me. In return, I give them protection. No deer nibble leaves from the lower branches and no crow steals eggs from its nests. So you have no reason to be afraid, as long as you are with me.”

Adam pursed his lips unhappily, and peered at the thick and crowding leaves below them. “It is still a long way down,” he said. “With or without your protection.”

“If you did fall, you would be caught,” Nigel replied. “I would tell the ivy to bind you, and keep you safe.”

Adam heaved a great sigh before nodding. “Yes,” he said. “I trust that you would. And I am glad to have met you, because otherwise I would have turned back by now.”

Nigel smiled at him. “If you want to see the stars, little faery, you will have to climb higher than this.” And with that, he ordered the ivy to make a ladder along the trunk. “Follow the ivy’s path,” he said, “and don’t look down. At the top, you will find a place to rest.”

He climbed with ease alongside Adam, swinging from leaf to leaf and twig to twig. It took Adam much greater effort - once or twice he stopped and clung to the ivy to catch his breath. When he reached the top, his arms and legs shook with tremors, but he smiled and laughed to find himself on solid ground again.

“I did it,” he said. “And I did not fall, either.” Then he looked around himself, expectantly. “But we can’t be there yet - this isn’t the top of your tree.”

“No, it isn’t. But, as it is daylight still, there is no point in waiting around up there for the stars. You will only get cold and hungry.” Nigel took hold of Adam’s shoulders and gently spun him round. “So instead, we will wait in here.”

Two great branches forked and spread, soft and mossy where they joined. In the one most upright, sheltered by a canopy of ivy, was a dark round hole.

“Woodpeckers made it, owls have roosted in it, and squirrels stored nuts in it,” Nigel said. “Many things have lived here. Now I do, and it is the warmest, most comfortable home you could wish for.”

Adam ducked inside and gave a little gasp. Nigel followed, feeling pleased. He did not often have guests, and usually ones not as strange as this, but of course Adam would like his home. Nigel could provide him with many impressive luxuries he was likely not used to, living so closely to the damp earth.

“Sit down and rest yourself,” he said, pointing at his cot. It stood in the corner furthest from the entrance - a pile of twigs leftover from a bird’s nest, stacked neatly and cushioned by fresh green leaves gathered that morning. On top was a blanket of woven thistledown.

Adam settled onto the cot and ran his fingers along the blanket in wonder. Nigel gathered water, acorn bread and honey, and set them on the polished piece of branch which served him as a table. “It is a fine blanket,” he said, as he set out cups and bowls and plates. “I trade with some meadow elves, who are very skilled at weaving. I can get you one, if you like. It would keep you warm, down in your dark burrow.”

Adam blinked a few times. “Thank you,” he said. “But I am well-provided for already. And this blanket seems very light - I prefer something thick and cosy, like the sheep’s wool one I have on my bed.”

“Sheep?” Nigel said. “Those large trampling animals? Why would you bother with such a creature?”

“They do not trouble me. And they leave their wool in the thorn bushes, ready for me to collect.” Adam smiled. “I could get you a blanket of their wool, if you like.”

Nigel laughed at the faery’s boldness - no meadow elf would dare speak to him that way - but Adam did not seem conscious he had spoken out of turn. He merely smiled some more and knelt on the swept floor by the table.

They ate with concentration and in good humour. Adam was far more complimentary about the food, especially the honey. Nigel was astonished to learn he had never eaten it before, and made sure he took plenty.

Afterwards, Nigel packed his pipe with dried strawberry leaves while Adam peeked out the entrance, at the fields and meadows below. The sun was dipping and the light growing golden and lazy. Soon it would be time to leave.

“Now you have come this far,” Nigel said, “are you still sure about travelling to the top of the tree? I ask because, once you begin again, you will not be able to turn back.”

“Why ever not?” Adam asked. His brow was furrowed and he worried at his lip. Nigel noticed he had already caught a little flush from the strong sun, and very fetching it was too.

Nigel didn’t answer. Instead he stood and fetched his whistle, carved from a particularly sharp blackthorn. He blew it and it gave a high piercing shriek. Adam covered his ears and so missed the sound of powerful wing beats growing closer and closer.

It was only when a shadow fell across the entrance that Adam took notice. One yellow eye stared inside and he froze in terror.

“Adam,” Nigel said, patting his shoulder. “Meet Darko.”