A few months ago, at the New Year, when we were listening to various renditions of Auld Lang Syne and I was remembering a dearly beloved Scottish family friend who died far too early one new year twenty years ago, we went for a walk and the roadside verge was full of thistles.
I think thistles are a weed wherever you are. In Australia they're a feral. Along with foxes and rabbits thistles are a deadly, invasive species.
And yet, the sight of them tore at my heart. It's not their fault they're alien and unwanted. Despite knowing the damage they cause, I love their tenacity, their prickles, their soft tones.
I love the softness of their down, the gentle purple of the flower, the fierceness of their spikes. I love how ephemeral they are, how wild.
In the all encompassing heat of the Queensland Summer they are a reminder of a place that is cool, that is home, that holds my stories. A place where I am not a feral, but belong.
I see their tenacity, brief though their lives are. I see the overlooked beauty in their many facets. They are chaotic, an odd mix of soft and harsh. They set my mind dreaming, creating.
Remembering the fae of my family's home-country, building worlds and characters set amidst landscapes where thistledown is a central building block. Trying to avoid the twee world of recent fairy and remembering the Queen Mab and Queen Joan and the eerie, unpredictable and other fae of Shapespeaere and Robert Kirk.