Afloat on birdsong, hawthorn petals and young leaves
Oct. 24, 2021

The Elf of Plants

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This week Vanessa from ‘The Mindful Narrowboat’ vlog got me thinking and so this week we begin to explore how our knowledge and (perhaps) attitudes to fungi are changing and leading us back to older ways of thinking about the environment and our place within it.

Journal entry:

“21st October, Thursday

A Hunter’s Moon swinging high
 Across a highwayman’s sky
 Of racing clouds.

The streets of Birmingham run wet
 With the glittering jewels of
 Brake lights and shop front signs. 

 A gull soars through the 
 Thermal canyons and valleys
 Under a sky of cut sapphire. 

Later still,
 The Plough silently revolves over the boat
 Needle sharp shards of light
 At the moment, tilting north. ”   

Episode Information

In this episode I read the following poems:
 Emily Dickinson’s ‘The Mushroom is the elf of plants
Sylvia Plath’s ‘Mushrooms’ ,
You can hear Sylvia Plath’s own reading of her poem here: Sylvia Plath reads ‘Mushrooms.’                    

I also read excerpts from:
John Clare’s (1827) from ‘October’ in The Shepherd’s Calendar
Wendell Berry’s (2017) The World-Ending Fire: Essential Wendell Berry published by Catapult.
Robin Wall Kimmerer (2020)Braiding Sweetgrass: Indigenous wisdom, scientific knowledge and the teachings of plants published by Penguin.  It is also published in the shorter volume:  The Democracy of Species also published by Penguin as part of their ‘Green Ideas’ series.  

I also refer to the works of:
Suzanne Simard (2021) Finding the Mother Tree: Uncovering the wisdom and intelligence of the forest. published by Penguin. 

Vanessa’s ‘Mindful Narrowboat’ vlog can be viewed here: The Mindful Narrowboat. Her Twitter account can be found at: @TheMindfulNB

General Details

In the intro and the outro, Saint-Saen's The Swan is performed by Karr and Bernstein (1961) and available on CC at

Two-stroke narrowboat engine recorded by 'James2nd' on the River Weaver, Cheshire. Uploaded on 23rd June 2018. Creative Commons Licence. 

Piano interludes composed and performed by Helen Ingram.

All other audio recorded on site. 

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