Seeds ripen relatively quickly days after pollination and soon thereafter the light-brown capsules open and release very small green seeds which are covered in hair, which acts as wings to carry the seed for long distances in air currents. Black willow begins producing seed around age 10 although the tree is most fecund around age It produces large seed crops annually and the small hairy seeds are dispersed via wind and water.
Black willow seed requires moisture to stay viable and under dry conditions can lose its viability in as little as 12 to 24 hours. It germinates best on very moist, mineral soil where high light conditions exist. Seedlings grow rapidly on productive sites, often exceeding 4 feet in height in the first year.
By age 5, black willow has commonly reached 32 feet in height and 2. Rapid growth continues until maturity in the north and then slows considerably until death at around age Black willow is the most shade intolerant tree found in bottomland hardwood forests of the Upper Mississippi River region. It commonly grows in dense, almost pure, even-aged stands where mortality is high throughout stand development. It is commonly replaced by longer-lived more tolerant bottomland species as it can not establish under its own shade. Common species associates include eastern cottonwood, river birch, American elm, red maple, box elder, and other shrub-like willow species.
For information on specific agents which influence the health and vigor of black willow, see the Specific pest problems section within the Forest Health tab. Burns, Russell M. Honkala, tech. By the strong bond of illusion the living and the dead were bound together. On the seventh night the servant of the samurai, wakeful with fear and sorrow, made bold to peer into his lord's room through a crack in the wooden shutters.
His hair stood on end and his blood ran cold to see Hagiwara in the arms of a fearful thing, smiling up at the horror that was its face, stroking its dank green robe with languid fingers. With daylight the servant made his way to a holy man of his acquaintance. When he had told his tale he asked, " Is there any hope for Hagiwara Sama?
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Nevertheless, there is a little hope. Before nightfall, this one had set a sacred text above every door and window-place of his master's house, and he had rolled in the silk of his master's girdle a golden emblem of the Tathagata. When these things were done, Hagiwara being drawn two ways became him- self as weak as water.
And his servant took him in his arms, laid him upon his bed and covered him lightly, and saw him fall into a deep sleep. At the hour of the Ox there was heard the sound of footsteps in the lane, without the garden hedge. They grew slow and stopped. See the Holy Writing over every door and window-place. The next night it was quite the same. Hagiwara slept in his weakness ; his servant watched ; the wraiths came and departed in sobbing despair.
The third day, when Hagiwara went to the bath, a thief stole the emblem, the golden emblem of the Tathagata, from his girdle. Hagiwara did not mark it.
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But that night he lay awake. It was his servant that slept, worn out with watching. Presently a great rain fell and Hagiwara, waking, heard the sound of it upon the roof. The heavens were opened and for hours the rain fell. And it tore the holy text from over the round window in Hagiwara's chamber. At the hour of the Ox there was heard the sound of footsteps in the lane without the garden hedge. Think of the love of ten existences. Great is the power of Karma. There must be a way. Thus we suffer for the sins of a former life. But O'Yone took her hand. Hand in hand the two rose lightly from the earth.
Like vapour they passed through the unguarded window. The samurai called, " Come to me, beloved," for the third time. He was answered, " Lord, I come. At his feet stood the peony lantern burning with a weird yellow flame. The servant shivered, took up the lantern and blew out the light ; for " I cannot bear it," he said. Prince Rice-Ear-Ruddy-Plenty loved a beautiful and royal maiden, and made her his bride.
And the lady was called Princess Blossoming-Brightly- as-the-Flowers-of-the-Trees, so sweetly fair was she. But her father was augustly wrath at her betrothal, for his Augustness, Prince Rice-Ear- Ruddy-Plenty, had put aside her elder sister, the Princess of the Rocks and, indeed, this lady was not fair , for he loved only Princess Blossoming- Brightly. So the old King said, " Because of this, the offspring of these heavenly deities shall be frail, fading and falling like the flowers of the trees.
At this day, the lives of their Augustnesses, the Heavenly Sovereigns, are not long. Prince Fire Flash was a fisherman, who got his luck upon the wide sea, and ran upon the shore with his august garments girded. And again, he tarried all the night in his boat, upon the high wave-crests. And he caught things broad of fin and things narrow of fin, and he was a deity of the water weeds and of the waters and of the fishes of the sea. But Prince Fire Fade was a hunter, who got his luck upon the mountains and in the forest, who bound sandals fast upon his feet, and bore a bow and heavenly-feathered arrows.
And he caught things rough of hair and things soft of hair, and he knew the trail of the badger and the wild cherry's time of flowering. For he was a deity of the woods. Therefore let us now exchange our luck. Give me thy rod and I will go to the cool waters. Thou mayest take my great bow and all my heavenly-feathered arrows and try the mountains, where, trust me, thou shalt see many strange and beautiful things, unknown to thee before. And he murmured, " Oh, to try my luck upon the sea!
And all day he hunted, and let fly the heavenly-feathered arrows ; but rough of hair or soft of hair, never a thing did he catch. And he cried, " Fool, fool, to barter the heavenly luck of the gods! And his Augustness, Prince Fire Fade, took the luck of the sea, and angled in sunshine and in gloom ; but broad of fin or narrow of fin, never a fish did he catch. And, moreover, he lost his brother's fish-hook in the sea.
So he hung his head, and returned.
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And Prince Fire Flash said, " Each to his own, the hunter to the mountain, and the fisher- man to the sea. We may not barter the luck of the gods. And now, where is my fish-hook? And Prince Fire Fade made answer, " Sweet brother, I have not thy fish-hook, but the deep sea, whose bottom no man may search. Though I should die for thee, yet could I not give thee back thy fish-hook. Then Prince Fire Fade burst the wild wistaria tendrils which bound his august ten-grasp sword to his side. And he said, " Farewell, good sword. But Prince Fire Flash would have none of them.
And again Prince Fire Fade toiled at a great furnace, and made one thousand fish-hooks ; and upon his knees he humbly offered them to his brother, Prince Fire Flash. For he loved his brother. Nevertheless Prince Fire Flash would not so much as look at them, but sat moody, his head on his hand, saying, " Mine own lost fish-hook will I have, that and no other. And, when night came, he had no heart to return homewards, but sat down, weary, upon a rock amid the salt pools.
And he cried, " Alas, my brother, I am all to blame, and through my foolishness has this come upon me. But Prince Fire Fade ceased not to lament. And though I have given him many other fish-hooks for compensation, he will have none of them, but desires only the original fish- hook.
Truly, the gods know, I would give my life to find it ; but how should that serve? And, at the end, thou shalt come to a palace made of fishes' scales, which is the palace of the great King of the Sea. Before the gate there is a clear well, and by the well-side there grows a cassia tree with many spreading branches. Therefore climb thou into the branches of the cassia tree, and there wait for the King's daughter, who shall come to give thee counsel. But this one girded his august garments and pushed the boat before him, till he was thigh-deep in the water.
And he said, " Nay, nay, fair youth, no thanks, only do my bidding. And he forthwith climbed the cassia tree and waited among its green branches. At the day's dawning came the handmaidens of the Sea King's daughter, with their jewelled vessels, to draw water from the well. And as they stooped to dip their vessels, Prince Fire Fade leaned and watched them from the branches of the cassia tree.
And the glory of his august countenance made a brightness upon the waters of the well. So all the maidens looked up and beheld his comeli- ness, and were amazed. But he spoke them fairly, and desired of them a little water from their vessels. So the maidens drew him water in a jewelled cup howbeit the jewels were clouded, because of the coldness of the well water , and they presented it to him with all reverence. Then, not drinking the water, Prince Fire Fade took the royal jewel from his neck, and holding it between his two lips he dropped it into the cup, and the cup he gave again to the maidens.
Now they saw the great jewel shining in the cup, but they could not move it, for it clung fast to the gold. So the maidens departed, skimming the water like the white birds of the offing. And they came to the Sea King's daughter, bearing the cup and the jewel in it. And he asked water of us, so we respectfully gave him water in this cup. And he drank none of it, but dropped a jewel into it from his lips. So we have brought them unto Thine Augustness, both the cup and the jewel. And her long sleeves, and certain of the folds of her august garments, floated behind her, and her head was bound with a garland of sea flowers.
And coming to the well she looked up through the branches of the cassia tree. And her eyes met the eyes of Prince Fire Fade. And presently she fetched her father, the Sea King, saying, " Father, there is a beautiful person at our gate. And for very many days there was held high revel and rejoicing in the Sea King's palace. But one night, as they took their ease upon the silken floor, and all the fishes of the sea brought rich dishes, and sweetmeats in vessels of gold and coral and jade to set before them, the fair Jewel Princess herself sat at Prince Fire Fade's right hand to pour the wine into his cup.
And the silver scales upon the palace walls glittered in the moonlight. But Prince Fire Fade looked out across the Sea Path and thought of what had gone before, and so heaved a deep sigh. Then the Sea King was troubled, and asked him, saying, " Wherefore dost thou sigh? And the fair Jewel Princess, his betrothed wife, came closer, and touched him on the breast, and said softly, " Oh, Thine Augustness, my sweet spouse, art thou not happy in our water palace, where the shadows fall green, that thou lookest so longingly across the Sea Path?
Or do our maidens not please thee, who move silently, like the birds of the offing? Oh, my lord, despise me not, but tell me what is in thine heart.
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And she passed to where the palace steps led down into the water. And standing upon the last step she called to the fishes of the sea, and summoned them, great and small, from far and near. So the fishes of the sea, both great and small, swam about her feet, and the water was silver with their scales. And the King's daughter cried, " O fishes of the sea, find and bring me the august fish-hook of Prince Fire Flash.
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Perchance this may be the august fish-hook of his Augustness, Prince Fire Flash. And after she had washed and dabbled it for a little, she took it in to Prince Fire Fade. And he rejoiced and said, " This is indeed my brother's fish-hook. I go to restore it instantly, and we shall be reconciled. But the fair Jewel Princess stood silent and sorrowing, for she thought, " Now will he depart and leave me lonely. And ere he went, the Sea King spoke : " Fair youth, now listen to my counsel. If thy brother sow rice upon the uplands, do thou sow thy rice low, in the water meads.
But if thy brother sow his rice in the water meads, then do thou, Thine Augustness, sow thy rice upon the uplands. And I who rule the rains and the floods will continually prosper the labours of Thine Augustness. Moreover, here are two magic jewels. If thy brother should be moved by envy to attack thee, then put forth the Tide Flowing Jewel and the waters shall arise to drown him. But if thou shouldst have com- passion upon him, then put forth the Tide Ebbing Jewel, and all the waters shall subside, and his life be spared.
And he hid the fish-hook in his long sleeve, and hung the two great jewels about his neck. Then the fair Jewel Princess came near and bade him farewell, with many tears. And the Sea King charged the crocodile, saying, " While crossing the middle of the sea, do not alarm him. And unsheathing his dagger, he hung it upon the crocodile's neck for a token. Hereupon, Prince Fire Fade found his brother, and gave him back his own fish-hook that had been lost. And she came across the Sea Path bearing in her arms a young child. And she, weeping, laid down the child at the feet of His Augustness and said, " My lord, I have brought thy son.
And the palace was thatched with cormorant's feathers. So they dwelt there with the August Child. And the fair Jewel Princess besought her lord, saying, " Sweet husband, look not on me in the dark night, for then I must take my native shape ; with those of my land it is ever so. Howbeit, look not on me, lest I should be ashamed and misfortune should follow. Nevertheless, there came a night when Prince Fire Fade lay awake, and could get no rest. And, at length, when it was very dark, before the dawn, he arose and struck a light to look upon his bride as she slept.
And he beheld a great scaled dragon, with translucent eyes, which was coiled up at the couch's foot. And Prince Fire Fade cried out aloud for terror, and dropped the light. Then morning broke very grey upon the sea. And the green scales fell away from her like a garment. So she stood, in a white robe, with her child upon her breast.
And she hung her head and wept, saying, " O Thine August- ness, my sweet spouse, I had thought to have made the Sea Path a highway between thy land and mine, that we might go and come at pleasure. But now, though I warned thee, thou hast looked upon me in the night. Therefore, my lord, between me and thee it is farewell.
I go across the Sea Path, and of this going there is no return. Take thou the August Child. And she was never more seen upon the Central Land of Reed Plains. Moreover, she shut the gates of the sea and closed the way to her father's palace. But the young maid, her sister, she sent to be a nurse to her babe, and because, for all that had been, she could not restrain her loving heart, she made a little song, and sent it to her lord by the maid, her sister.
And the song said : " Oh, fair are the red jewels, And fair is the string on which they are strung. Even so, fair is my babe. These are folks who are mortally afraid of the storm, and who hate lightning and tempest ; they speak all the evil they can of Rai-den and of Rai- Taro, his son. But they are wrong.
Rai-den Sama lived in a Castle of Cloud set high in the blue heaven. He was a great and mighty god, a Lord of the Elements. Rai-Taro was his one and only son, a brave boy, and his father loved him. In the cool of the evening Rai-den and Rai- Taro walked upon the ramparts of the Castle of Cloud, and from the ramparts they viewed the doings of men upon the Land of Reed Plains. North and South and East and West they looked. Often they laughed oh, very often ; sometimes they sighed. Sometimes Rai-Taro leaned far over the castle walls to see the children that went to and fro upon earth.
Rai-Taro answered, " Father, I will look well. From the southern rampart they looked, and saw priests and acolytes serving in a holy temple where the air was dim with incense, and images of gold and bronze gleamed in the twilight. From the eastern rampart they looked, and saw a lady's bower, where was a fair princess, and a troop of maidens, clad in rose colour, that made music for her. There were children there, too, playing with a little cart of flowers. From the western rampart they looked, and saw a peasant toiling in a rice-field.
He was weary enough and his back ached. His wife toiled with him by his side. If he was weary, it is easy to believe that she was more weary still. They were very poor and their garments were ragged. J Rai-den shook his head. Presently, " Have you looked well, Rai-Taro?
Will you go, then, to the fair lady's bower? Neither will I have my head shaved to go and live with priests. You will have a hard life and scanty fare, Rai- Taro. Perhaps they will love me. Day after day and week after week the bright sun shone. The rice-field was dry, and young rice was burnt up. May the dear gods have mercy on all poor people! When he woke the sky was black with clouds. We shall have rain in plenty, thanks be. Howbeit the Thunder Dragon spared him.
And soon he sat up and rubbed his eyes. The ball of fire was gone, but a babe lay upon the wet earth ; a fine fresh boy with the rain upon his cheeks and his hair. As he went the rain still fell, but the sun came out in the blue sky, and every flower in the cooler air shone and lifted up its grateful head. The peasant came to his cottage door. The man answered, " Rai-Taro, the little eldest son of the Thunder. He was the delight of his foster-parents, and all the neighbours loved him. When he was ten years old he worked in the rice-fields like a man.
He was the wonderful weather prophet. And he brought great good fortune to the poor peasant man, and all his works prospered. When Rai-Taro was eighteen years old all the neighbours were bidden to his birthday feast. There was plenty of good sake, and the good folk were merry enough ; only Rai-Taro was silent and sad and sorry. Why would you leave us? What have I given you? What have I given you, Rai-Taro, my son?
I am more learned than the Immortals. And in the likeness of a white cloud he scaled heaven's blue height till he gained his father's castle. And Rai-den received him. The two of them stood upon the western rampart of the Castle of Cloud and looked down to earth. The foster-mother stood weeping bitterly, but her husband took her hand. We grow old apace.
In a lonely place was their cottage, upon the outskirts of a deep wood of pine trees.
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Folks had it that the wood was haunted. They said it was full of deceiving foxes ; they said that beneath the mossy ground the elves built their kitchens ; they said that long-nosed Tengu had tea- parties in the forest thrice a month, and that the fairies' children played at hide-and-seek there every morning before seven. Over and above all this they didn't mind saying that the honest couple were queer in their ways, that the woman was a wise woman, and that the man was a warlock which was as may be.
But sure it was that they did no harm to living soul, that they lived as poor as poor, and that they had one fair daughter. She was as neat and pretty as a princess, and her manners were very fine ; but for all that she worked as hard as a boy in the rice-fields, and within doors she was the housewife indeed, for she washed and cooked 56 vii THE BLACK BOWL and drew water.
She went barefoot in a grey homespun gown, and tied her back hair with a tough wistaria tendril. Brown she was and thin, but the sweetest beggar-maid that ever made shift with a bed of dry moss and no supper. By-and-by the good man her father dies, and the wise woman her mother sickens within the year, and soon she lies in a corner of the cottage waiting for her end, with the maid near her crying bitter tears. It is a bad thing for a poor girl to be pretty. If she is pretty and lonely and innocent, none but the gods will help her. They will help you, my poor child, and I have thought of a way besides.
Fetch me the great black rice- bowl from the shelf. I promise! But how shall I know when the time comes? And now help me outside, for the sweet morning dawns and I've a fancy to see the fairies' children once again, as they run in the forest. Their bright garments fluttered, and they laughed lightly as they went.
The mother smiled to see them ; before seven she died very sweetly as she smiled. When her little store of rice was done, the maid with the wooden bowl knew well enough that she must starve or go and find more. So first she tended her father's and mother's graves and poured water for the dead, as is meet, and recited many a holy text. Then she bound on her sandals, kilted her grey skirts to show her scarlet petticoat, tied her household gods in a blue printed handkerchief, and set out all alone to seek her fortunes, the brave girl!
For all her slenderness and pretty feet she was a rarely odd sight, and soon she was to know it. As she went through a village two women looked up from washing in the stream, stared and laughed. Out upon her false modesty to roam the country thus with her head in a black bowl, as who should cry aloud to every passing man, ' Come and see what is hidden! Sometimes she was handled roughly by village louts, who scoffed and caught at her dress as she went ; they even laid hands upon the bowl itself and sought to drag it from her head by force.
But they only played at that game once, for the bowl stung them as fiercely as if it had been a nettle, and the bullies ran away howling. The beggar-maiden might seek her fortune, but it was very hard to find. She might ask for work ; but see, would she get it? None were wishful to employ a girl with a black bowl on her head. At last, on a fine day when she was tired out, she sat her upon a stone and began to cry as if her heart would break.
Down rolled her tears from under the black bowl. They rolled down her cheeks and reached her white chin. A wandering ballad-singer passed that way, with his biiva slung across his back.
It was all he could see of her face, and, " Oh, girl with the black bowl on your head," quoth he, " why do you sit weeping by the road- side? I am hungry and tired. No one will give me work or pay me money. Indeed I am sorry for you. In the circumstances the best I can do for you is to make you a little song. The wild cherry droops by the roadside, Beware of the black canopy of cloud. Hark, hear the rain, hear the rainfall From the black canopy of cloud. He came to the house of a passing rich farmer. In he went, and they asked him to sing before the master of the house. When he had made an end, " Tell us the interpretation of your song," says the master of the house.
She wore a great black wooden bowl upon her head, which is the great black cloud in my song, and from under it her tears flowed like rain, for I saw the drops upon her white chin. And she said that she wept for hunger, and because no one would give her work nor pay her money. All the day long she worked in the waving rice, with her grey skirts kilted and her sleeves bound back with cords.
All day long she plied the sickle, and the sun shone down upon the black bowl ; but she had food to eat and good rest at night, and was well content. She found favour in her master's eyes, and he kept her in the fields till all the harvest was gathered in. Now the maiden lived well and happily as a bird, and went singing about her labours. And every night she thanked the august gods for her good fortune. Still she wore the black bowl upon her head. At the New Year time, " Bustle, bustle," says the farmer's wife ; " scrub and cook and sew ; put your best foot foremost, my dear, for we must have the house look at its very neatest.
Then the neighbours were called in, and great was the merry-making.
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They feasted and they danced, they jested and they sang, many a bowl of good red rice they ate, and many a cup of good sake they drank. All this time the girl, with bowl on her head, plied her work modestly in the kitchen, and well out of the way she was the farmer's wife saw to that, good soul! All the same, one fine day the company called for more wine, and the wine was done, so the son of the house takes up the sake bottle and goes with it himself to the kitchen.
What should he see there but the maiden sitting upon a pile of faggots, and fanning the kitchen fire with a split bamboo fan! And sure enough he made it his daily care, and peeped as much as he could, which was not very much ; but seemingly it was enough for him, for he thought no more of Kioto, the great and gay, but stayed at home to do his courting. His father laughed and his mother fretted, the neighbours held up their hands, all to no purpose.
I must and will have her," cried the impetuous young man, and very soon he fixed the wedding-day himself. When the time came, the young maidens of the village went to array the bride. They dressed her in a fair and costly robe of white brocade, and in trailing hakama of scarlet silk, and on her shoulders they hung a cloak of blue and purple and gold. They chattered, but as for the bride she said never a word.
She was sad because she brought her bridegroom nothing, and because his parents were sore at his choice of a beggar-maid. She said nothing, but the tears glistened on her white chin. But it would not stir. Let be, let be for pity's sake," said the poor bride, " for you make my head ache. So they poured the sake from the silver flagon, and from the silver cup the two of them drank the mystic " Three Times Three" that made them man and wife. Then the black bowl burst asunder with a loud noise, and fell to the ground in a thousand pieces.
With it fell a shower of silver and gold, and pearls and rubies and emeralds, and every jewel of price. Great was the astonishment of the company as they gazed upon a dowry that for a princess would have been rich and rare. But the bridegroom looked into the bride's face. For patience' sake and for dear love's sake, pray, and be pitiful that upon that night there may be neither rain, nor hail, nor cloud, nor thunder, nor creeping mist. Hear the sad tale of the Star Lovers and give them your prayers. The Weaving Maiden was the daughter of a Deity of Light.
All the day long she sat at her loom and plied her shuttle, weaving the gay garments of the gods. Warp and woof, hour by hour the coloured web grew till it lay fold on fold piled at her feet. Still she never ceased her labour, for she was afraid. She had heard a saying : " Sorrow, age-long sorrow, shall come upon the Weaving Maiden when she leaves her loom.
She went barefoot, and let her hair hang down unconfined. Ever and anon a long lock fell upon the loom, and back she flung it over her shoulder. She did not play with the children of Heaven, or take her pleasure with celestial youths and maidens. She did not love or weep. She was neither glad nor sorry. She sat weaving, weaving. Now her father, the Deity of Light, grew angry.
He said, " Daughter, you weave too much. Come, will you leave your loom? What do we know of age- long sorrow? Are we not gods? And he caused her to be very richly attired, and they put jewels upon her and garlanded her head with flowers of Paradise. And her father gave her for spouse the Herd Boy of Heaven, who tended his flocks upon the banks of the Bright River. Now the Maiden was changed indeed. Her eyes were stars and her lips were ruddy. She went dancing and singing all the day. Long hours she played with the children of Heaven, and she took her pleasure with the celestial youths and maidens.
Lightly she went ; her feet were shod with silver. Her lover, the Herd Boy, held her by the hand. She laughed so that the very gods laughed with her, and High Heaven re-echoed with sounds of mirth. She was careless ; little did she think of duty or of the garments of the gods. As for her loom, she never went near it from one moon's end to another. Her face was all tears and smiles, and she hid it on his breast. So she lived her life. But her father, the Deity of Light, was angry. She will become the laughing-stock of Heaven. Besides, who is to weave the new spring garments of the gods?
Three times she laughed softly and shook her head. The magpies flew together, from far and near, and they spread their wings for a frail bridge across the river, and the Herd Boy went over by the frail bridge. And immediately the magpies flew away to the ends of the earth and the Weaving Maiden could not follow.
She was the saddest thing in Heaven. Long, long she stood upon the shore, and held out her arms to the Herd Boy, who tended his oxen desolate and in tears. Long, long she lay and wept upon the sand. Long, long she brooded, looking on the ground. She arose and went to her loom. She cast aside the cloth that covered it. She took her shuttle in her hand.
But in a little while she said, " Yet I would not be as once I was. I did not love or weep, I was neither glad nor sorry. Now I love and I weep I am glad, and I am sorry. Sometimes the web was grey with grief, sometimes it was rosy with dreams. The gods were fain to go strangely clad. The Maiden's father, the Deity of Light, for once was well pleased. I am the saddest thing in Heaven. He is banished for ever and ever by the decree of a Deity, that cannot be broken.
On the seventh day of the seventh moon, I will summon the magpies together from the ends of the earth, and they shall be a bridge over the Bright River of Heaven, so that the Weaving Maiden shall lightly cross to the waiting Herd Boy on the farther shore. On the seventh day of the seventh moon came the magpies from far and near. And they spread their wings for a frail bridge.
And the Weaving Maiden went over by the frail bridge. Her eyes were like stars, and her heart like a bird in her bosom. And the Herd Boy was there to meet her upon the farther shore. Only if the rain falls with thunder and cloud and hail, and the Bright River of Heaven is swollen and swift, the magpies cannot make a bridge for the Weaving Maiden. Alack, the dreary time! Therefore, true lovers, pray the gods for fair weather. Many books he read, and he never forgot what was in them.
All the characters he knew as he knew the lines in the palm of his hand. He learned secrets from birds and beasts, and herbs and flowers and trees, and rocks and metals. He knew magic and poetry and philosophy. He grew full of years and wisdom. All the people honoured him ; but he was not happy, for he had a word written upon his heart. The male and female catkins flower at the same time in early spring but on different trees, the large species bearing long green camouflaged tassels, the smaller Pussy Willows carrying the little grey furry buds on bare twigs.
The flowers are pollinated by insects and wind. Willow, in particular the Osier species, makes a wonderful material for building and for all sorts of agricultural purposes particularly fencing. It was a prime crop for charcoal making, and most ancient houses used willow withies for their wattle and daub walls. Thousands of acres were grown in the Britain, coppiced and the pliable shoots harvested for roofing and walls, for basket and container weaving, to lobster pots, bee-hives and coracle making. Much of the willow used for beautiful hand-made baskets and storage was no longer needed when containers and bags of plastic were mass manufactured.
Now it is fashionable again — thanks to a renewed love of natural materials and it is being grown across the country once more by specialists who sell it for crafts. For the eco-conscious, willow eco-coffins are now commonly used. I love bicycles with baskets, practical, hard-wearing and attractive. The Druids were also supposed to craft willow sculptures — and gave rise to the legend of the Wicker Man, where it is told that the priests burned their sacrifices to the gods alive inside the structures. There is a new Wllow Man by the M5 near Bridgewater — a magnificent 40 foot running creature sculpted by Serena de la Hay.
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He is the second sculpture and now lives on an island to keep him safe from Wicker Man influenced youths. Willow wood can withstand water and was used in clog making. The cricket bat is still made of white willow, specifically Salix alba var. Willow Healing and Medicine. This is because the bark contains the glucoside salicin, which converts to salicylic acid once in the blood stream. In , a well travelled doctor, the Revd. Edward Stone from Oxfordshire conducted five years of careful experiments in the use of willow bark.
He found that it worked equally well in reducing fever and pain and wrote a letter to draw attention to his findings to the then President of the Royal Society. The bitter willow bark, the young green twigs and also the leaves were chewed to bring down fevers, as an anti-inflammatory in rheumatic joints, to relieve headaches and the pains of childbirth.
This being said, some people react adversely to the natural material as well and can have quite severe gastric discomfort. Best made in spring by stripping some fresh white willow bark so as not to damage the tree. Soak a third of a cupful in a cupful of cold water for several hours and then bring to the boil and lowering heat, simmer for 20 minutes. It may be used as a mouth wash or gargle or externally as an antiseptic wash.
The bark powders easily when dried, and can be stored in air-tight jars for several months before being used in the same way.