By Caitlin Auer
London’s seductive visage, her angular skyscraper and swaying side street features, began to evolve into an overwhelming toxicity– an entrancing figure that was far too intimidating to ignore. With the winter chill, she revealed a stingingly cold steel gaze framed with crumbling ash, stained brick skin, hissing smoke and gasoline wafting out of pipe nostrils and crane teeth that swung as the city purred and whispered in a language only a seldom few of its inhabitants could even properly understand. The crowds danced in flames, pedestrians collided in an escalating rouge frenzy, the thick air clogs and hazes. After nearly a year spent decoding the blurred clues of the city’s drumbeat pulse within the center of the city, I sought the green earth hues reminiscent of the Pacific Northwest. I yearned to feel some soil or catch a scent of the bay within a fleeting breeze that brought a touch of familiarity, some calm, and some lung expansion, something–
Something to take life, to extend its sinewy veins into the ancient marble rock of such prestigious land and to sprout fresh.
A spreading patch of ivy burrowed into the in the crevices of the dirt between the cracks of cobblestone pathway in Water Lane, right beside the quiet patch of the River Thames in Richmond. Ivy is a woody stemmed, self-clinging climber that can grow quickly into the canopy of a tree. Where it grows as a trailing, ground-cover plant, it roots in at many points and its stems extend over a wide area, concealing street poles and high block railways. A true pest, it is. A nuisance- easy to spot amongst the finely manicured brush found in Henry VIII’s hunting grounds, sprawling throughout Richmond Park, or in the rose bushes lining family manors and planted on boathouse decks. Ivy multiplies in colonies and settles into residencies overlaying renovated cream houses with centuries of stories seeping out of the chimneys.
I nearly tripped on the intruder’s vines, the stems snaked over the ground, and the lack of cluttered sidewalks failed to alert me otherwise. My breath held deep within my core, a standstill, and a resounding snap of heel against earth. The ducks and swans fluttered away, further into the riverbank. Fingernails dug into the ivy’s velvety green leaves, and I gingerly plucked a bouquet to feast my eyes on during teatime. Save for later, to relish the pungent scent of its heart-shaped leaves after a rainstorm.
Cait Auer is a writer from the Seattle, Washington state, specialising in nonfiction and fiction prose. She has served as a writer’s conference assistant coordinator, a travel journalist, a music and restaurant reviewer, and an editorial assistant for three regional magazines based in Washington state. Utilising written words in the business realm fascinates her. Cait’s a spontaneous walking fiend, as her main hobby is spending her pounds on tasty treats found in treasure trove restaurants.