by Robin Lloyd-Jones

On Christmas Eve I went for a walk along the shore at Helensburgh. Thick mist cocooned me in a still, silent world of hinted shapes. Next month would be my wife’s 80th birthday. We were both getting old.

About ten minutes along the shore I encountered an old friend – a tree trunk, nine or ten feet long, which had been tossed above the high-water mark in a storm. It had lain there for the last twelve years, gradually decaying. Its bark, year by year ,had peeled away, exposing the grain of the wood. Knots, conks and cankers caused eddies and counter-currents in the flow. Sand-blasted, frost-bitten, corded, the grain bar-coded message of metamorphosis.

Beetles, millipedes, mites and worms had catacombed and labyrinthed the wood. In places it had been burned, adding dark and different textures. Slime molds, jelly-rot fungi, algae and other mucilaginous forms inhabited its surface in concentric circles, geometric shapes and magical mandalas. Colonies of colour patterned the trunk in shades of purple, green, orange, cream and brown. Lit by the low winter sun and moistened by the mist, the trunk glistened, its magnificence magnified and enhanced.

Holding my camera in gnarled, brown-blotched hands and bending on stiff knees to attain the best angles, I recorded life emerging from death and beauty born of decay.