How many limbs would you sacrifice for eternal youth? None? not even a few fingers, some little toes? Very wise, this only works with trees, but I bet some out there would be prepared to donate a digit or two…
I am pondering some of our local Westcountry creatures – the ones you don’t usually see. The rhyne mermaids, ditch dragons, hedge trolls – more investigation is needed. However, one collection of creatures that I am sure are out there are the Pollarded Dryads.
Dryads of course are tree spirits. And willows, like all trees, must have their dryads – wild and natural, growing where they will. Except in Somerset they do this to the willows:
These are pollarded willows: keep cutting the branches off and the trees continually shoot up long thin straight woody stems, exactly what you need for willow weaving that was once a huge industry here, and is having a bit of revival. If you draw with charcoal, it’s probably also what you are drawing with. But has anyone ever thought of the poor dryads of these trees, continually having their limbs chopped off and continually sprouting countless more?
Now here is the interesting bit: it is a curious fact that if you constantly cut off the branches of a tree, the growth that comes back is young, vigorous growth like that of a young sapling. For ever. Yes the tree could become diseased and die, but it will never become old. A coppiced tree (like pollarding, but cut at ground level) can live for hundreds of years, with continually youthful growth. Now, is that worth giving up a limb or two?