A late afternoon in April. It is the hour of long shadows and changing light; the best time to see the hidden glade. A gentle breeze drifts across the farm fields as we make our way towards the woodland.
In comparison to the areas of ancient forest nearby, our local wood is small, only 30 hectares, but still feels big enough to enclose you. I could imagine myself utterly lost here, yet know that ten minutes’ walk towards any compass point will see me safely back to the fields.
The bluebells have blossomed. Amongst them pheasants roost and several times now one has startled and taken flight right beside us in a flap of feathers.
Wood anemones flourish closer to the main pathways, upturned to the sunlight as if they would catch every drop.
From the shadier corners of the woodland’s edge, red campions dazzle.
Never forget to look upwards. I remain fascinated by the silent language of trees, how the canopy allows all to get their share of light. The branches of one tree will strive not to touch those of another. Deciduous trees are companionable, they seem to be working together so that none are crowded out.
To the glade then. Throughout the colder months, the lofty branches shade a shallow mirror pool that reflects the leaves above. When spring comes, and the water drains away, it transforms into a rich glade of tufted grasses and wild flowers. This is my favourite time to visit, as the late afternoon sun shines down like a spotlight.
I concentrate on the birdsong, as the wind ripples through the oak, ash, wild cherry and hazel. I breathe in the greenness, then close my eyes to feel the warmth of the sun on my eyelids; forest bathing in the now-empty pool.
—Keep safe and well everyone. With heartfelt thanks to all those who are working to keep us safe, especially those on the frontline in the NHS and hospitals around the world.—