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Bury Me Under a Rowan Tree
Member Name: FORCHARITY
Date: 28/10/02, updated on 05/04/05 (3994 review reads)
Bury me where a lone tree will spread
Its cooling branches o'er my head
That its withering leaves each year may rest
On the grassy mound above my breast.
Let ivies twine and the mosses creep
Where lies my dust in its dreamless sleep
Sweet emblems all that the blest shall rise
To fadeless glory beyond the skies.*
Strange person that I am I have decided to have myself recycled. When I die I want to be buried in one of the new woodland cemeteries and for my tree I have chosen a Rowan.
The Rowan, also known as the Mountain Ash, is a small graceful tree growing to about 25ft.and providing a wonderful display of colours throughout its growing season. Delicate fern like leaves provide the verdant backdrop for the splash of scented, creamy white blossom in May or June followed by a dazzling display of deep orange red berries in autumn. The leaves also take on rich autumnal shades before falling.
The blossom attracts bees in the spring and the berries not only feed the birds but can also be used to make wine, rowan jelly, or combined with other seasonal fruits in hedgerow jelly.
Because it is a relatively petite tree it is suitable to grow in small gardens and because it is a native tree it is easy to grow and lives for around 200 years.
I decided on a Rowan tree for several reasons not least its attractiveness:
Recently I went out to collect the ingredients for hedgerow jelly. I found plenty of hawthorn haws, wild rosehips, crab apples, blackberries and sloes but no rowanberries. Neither the two large woods nor the open land around had a Rowan tree. This is probably only to be expected in ancient woodland because although a Rowan is good at protecting the young saplings of other trees eventually the larger trees squeeze out the Rowan, which prefers plenty of light and air. For this reason Rowan has made its favourite haunt in the higher altitude areas of Britain such as Scotland and
Wales, hence its name Mountain Ash. But I think the Rowan is such a beautiful tree that it should have a special place in managed lowland woodland areas.
Other reasons for choosing the Rowan are some of the rather interesting myths, legends and folklore about the tree and its powers.
The most common piece of folklore about the Rowan is its power to protect against evil which was most frequently associated in older times with witches, hence many of its local names such as witchwood, wichen or wish ash. An old rhyme declares:
Roan tree and red thread
Haud the witches a? in dread.
The common name, Rowan or roan may well be derived from raun, old Norse, for charm, from its powers to avert evil.
Rowan wood was often built into or placed at vulnerable parts of the buildings, both of humans and animals, doors, windows and chimneys to protect the building and it was used to make cradle rockers to protect the baby. Protective necklaces were made from berries and red thread and sticks were carried for protection.
It is possible that the protective powers attributed to Rowan are associated with the sacred symbol to be found on its berries. Look closely at a Rowan berry and you will discover a tiny pentagram.
All in all the Rowan seems to me a good choice to plant upon a grave. The Rowan is a tree which aspires to great heights in spite of its small stature. With its aspirations to the heavens it also offers protection. Plus I rather like the idea of my decomposing body providing the compost which will feed the tree and I in turn will be part of the tree and birds feasting on the berries might carry me on further journeys. Well I said at the outset I was a bit strange didn?t I?
Here is the recipe for Hedgerow Jelly (from Prue Leith?s Cookery Bible).
Pick rosehips, haws, blackberries, crab apples, sloes, wild bullaces or plums, rowan berries and elderberries in any proportions you like, making s
ure, however, that there is a good proportion of high pectin frit among them.
If the rosehips are very hard, simmer them in water until soft, then add everything else, roughly cut up if large but not peeled or pitted. Add enough water to cover three quarters of the fruit. Simmer slowly stirring occasionally, until mushy.
Drip overnight through a jelly bag or several layers of cloth, without stirring. Measure the juice and return to a clean pan, with 450g of sugar for every 570ml/ 1 pint of juice. Boil for a set and put into jars (as in any jam recipe)
If you are lucky enough to have a Rowan tree in your garden you might like to make Rowan jelly. Make in the same way as above but include some chopped crab apples to provide the pectin.
Both jellies are rich and delicious served with lamb, game or cold meats or incorporated into sauces.
Notes: *I found this poem on the internet and adopted it.
Further information about local schemes for woodland burial services can be obtained from local county councils or you might like to look at greenburials,co.uk
This opinion was donated to the FORCHARITY account by Zebra