Imagine you are a tiny insect in winter, crawling over a vast tree-land. The bark ridges become mountains capped with snowy fungus, and the spongy mosses hard-hearted coniferous forests. With unsurpassable determination you scale your way over peeling cliffs of mint-white fungus; insurmountable single-mindedness carries you through the deep, dark brush and tendrils which tower above your hardy, exo-skeletoned body. Hidden in the shale-like folds of fungus and the understory of gentle green, you are at least sheltered from the wind and sun. You make your way homeward, with the self-sacrificial determination only an ant can possess, across the wide organic landscape that, deep inside, pulses and grows along with you.
To exist as a tree must be difficult, to say the least. Its skin is covered with flaky whiteness somehow more alive than toothpaste spilled and dried on bathroom counters, and green blotches like overgrown mold which battle for surface area. Yet somehow these neighbours manage to tolerate each other; moss, fungus and tree must have come to a mutual agreement at some point in the forgotten past that they would live together in symbiosis, seeming on the outside to fight for life and light, but hiding their secret agreement. Why, then, would they take the trouble to disguise their friendship behind a mask of struggle? Perhaps they are truly unwilling companions… or perhaps it would simply ruin a tree’s reputation if anyone suspected it of fraternizing with mere mosses and fungi.
The sky is bright but the air is cold. The verdant mosses, coloured in lush shades of forest, could just as well be waving weeds in the clear sea, or a grove of pines from the lofty perspective of an eagle. Harsh black speckles of shade attempt to hide their humble roots; they are unsuccessful, and the dry blood-brown feet poke out into patches of light, cold toes clenching the thick crinkly bark below. The busy mossy crowd pushes aside a few fungal bodies, as they huddle together. Their shivering is minute, and imperceptible to the clumsy human eye. Like churchgoers on a winter weekend, they reach their forked ferny fingers pleadingly towards the light of an unusual February sun, and I, too, pray for the spring.