Soul & Soil

From Holloway, Robert MacFarlane on revisiting a spot visited once before with his now deceased friend.

That long & happy day passed in exploration, tree-climbing, walking, talking, lounging. I had not gone in search of Roger’s shade, but I found him there nonetheless, glimpsed startlingly clearly at the turn of a corner or the edge of a tree-line. Actual memory traces existed in the stumps of the holly saplings we had cut as staffs, our bald-marks still visible in the wood. He knowth hym by the traces & by his denne and by the soole.

I now understand it certainly to be the case, though I have long imagined it to be true, that stretches of a path might carry memories of a person just as person might of a path.

That bit in Middle English is not modernized nor a citation provided so off we go to trod the paths of dictionaries.

denne = den, lair
soole = a wallowing place for a boar

Robert E. Lewis, ed. Middle English Dictionary yields

He knoweth a grete boor .. bi þe traces, and bi his denne, and bi þe soile [vr. soole]

The origins are French.

Some wit has called “la souille” “le jacuzzi des sangliers”.

But back to MacFarlane. The line comes from a manual composed by Edward, Second Duke of York, The Master Game. This intertextual sidetrack is in keeping with a remark earlier in Holloway

This book is about a holloway & its shades, & a clear map of the holloway’s finding is not contained within it.

And so for day 2514

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