It’s a while since I walked in the wood. There was a time from 1982 until two years ago that I knew almost every tree, every shrub and every path in that wood. I walked it daily – many days twice, taking different routes.

There was the straightforward path, a roughly circular thing but that was always too short and too easy unless showing visitors the woodland for the first time.

There was the diversion to see the badger setts, there was the diversion to see the snowdrops in spring, there was the diversion to look at the badger hairs caught on the bottom strand of barbed wire fence where they left the wood to trot down to their latrine and on to the river. The arrival of snow always confirmed their continued presence, as it did the presence of many deer.

A non-track through the bottom section of the wood led to the secret grove where I once found pale yellow-gold chanterelles.

Another track, twisty-turning this way and that and trod by unknown creatures – perhaps badgers, maybe rabbits, is blocked in places by fallen trees but winds steeply through the thickest most undisturbed woodland. This is the place I heard the flutey, sonorous song of a nightingale.

I suppose going out for a trot for the first time in ages and taking the twisty turny path downhill wasn’t the most sensible of moves.

There was too much to look at, for a start. A lot had changed. There had been new badger earthworks and the old ones looked abandoned, the cavernous tunnels filled with leaves.

The snowdrops were all in bloom; more than I’ve ever seen before – and the bright, fresh shoots of bluebells were just starting to show through the leaf litter.

The thought that spring was on it’s way, as the wind howled and shifted the treetops, causing loose branches and bunches of old ash keys to come cracking down unexpectedly, was a good one.

It probably contributed to the spring in my step, trotting downhill in a bit of a haphazard, slightly “oops-a-daisy” “oo-er” and “oh bugger” slidey way on the path, barely a foot-width wide, which winds between holly bushes, huge ivy-clad fallen trees, oaks and a few pines.

So it was a surprise to see the shiny black nose of a black labrador come around the tree trunk at me and more of a surprise to find his owner, a short blonde woman in unsuitable footwear struggling with the mud-slippery track and grasping desperately for tree branches to haul herself up.

I only just managed to avoid falling over her – not that she noticed me bearing down on her with my Goretex walking boots.  Too busy concentrating on her own feet.

Oh and I managed to turn over on my ankle at the bottom of the wood on a perfectly easy flat section, fortunately managing not to sprain it, which makes a change.

This cross-country trotting lark needs a bit more practice. Very nice snowdrops though and I didn’t flatten a single one.  So that’s some kind of result.


About janh1

Part-time hedonist.
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13 Responses to Wood

  1. The snowdrops gladden the heart!

  2. valzone says:

    Hi Jan. what a lovely read this is, I chuckled a little too. The photographs you’ve posted are beautiful, they give a real sense of spring in the air. I spent a couple of hours walking in the sunshine this morning, in the park there was even a lady sat on a bench reading her book, I couldn’t believe it. But, it’s amazing the effect the sun, blue sky, and new life springing up before your eyes, does to you.

  3. janh1 says:

    Yes they do, Sophie. Good to see flowers after the deadly dull of mid-winter.

    Thanks Val. Lucky you, having a couple of hours of freedom. I was working all day today but did make the most of having to go to a training session elsewhere by making sure we walked there through the park!! Lifts the spirits no end. 😀

  4. Tupper says:

    Inside every wild Snowdrop waits the breath of a new born lamb.

  5. IsobelandCat says:

    Oh man, I’ve got to get up to the boat and enjoy the swathes of snowdrops. Ours are hardly showing.
    BTW I just finished Louise Doughty’s Whatever You Love and couldn’t help wondering if her Janaitch character was an hommage to you.

  6. janh1 says:

    Send pics when you do, then Isobel!

    Yes, it was! She gave subtle (or mebbe not so subtle!) name-checks to a whole bunch of people who followed her through the Novel in a Year course in the DT. I wondered if the whole idea of David and his warm Welsh family could be linked too – but not certain about that. I certainly found him an attractive real character. Did you enjoy the book?

  7. IsobelandCat says:

    I couldn’t spot anyone else, though when one of the characters said ‘Hon’ it reminded me of Claire, and I hope Edie wasn’t based on any of you. I didn’t participate in any of the MyT writing stuff so I wouldn’t expect to be able to identify members.
    Yes, I did enjoy the novel. there were a few bits that didn’t hang together for me, but they were minor. It was all in shades of grey. I’ve not read anything else by her, so it has made me interested.

  8. janh1 says:

    None whatsoever of Edie!! 🙂

    I enjoyed it very much. The only thing that didn’t fit for me was the spontaneous sex scene near the end. I won’t go into details to spoil it for those who haven’t read it but I just didn’t believe that she would do that…

  9. IsobelandCat says:

    I’ve just started Black Water Rising by Attica Locke, but I think I’d like something a little lighter in mood, so I may put it on hold.
    I really like the idea of the MyT people being included in a novel.

    • janh1 says:

      They were more the “creatives” than the other MyT bloggers. Several of us met Louise at Chelt Lit Fest last year. Very convivial. 🙂

      I don’t know that author. Loads of books I’d like to read at the moment. Frustrating that there isn’t enough time. Maybe one day I’ll catch up. When I’m 90.

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