Almanac: Hidden Kingdoms – In search of the invisible

In summer, the little woodland becomes a dark and shaded place. Leaves grow with such veracity that the canopy above lets in less light than any other time of the year.

I share today’s walk with my 12 year old son. It is so quiet here. Sudden rustles of foliage or scraping on bark reminds us that we are sharing this space with many unseen creatures. At any such sound, we immediately pause. A shared inquisitive glance asks the silent question “what was that?”

Ripples of bright light dance across the forest paths as the clouds float by, unseen, overhead. My eyes never quite adjust to this constant change. My vision is a little blurred, settling somewhere ethereal. I feel the slight twinge of my pupils widening and then hurriedly dilating over and over. Hands shielding our eyes, we veer off the footpath in search of softer, diffused shade.

We follow the trails of badgers until we find ourselves barred by brambles and start retracing our steps. Here, away from the footpath, are signs of the woodland’s hidden life. A mouse hole. An abandoned bird’s nest caught between low branches. A tuft of coarse grey fur caught on a blackberry thorn. It is easy to step away from the path, but having taken a winding route, it is more difficult to find our way back. In a small woodland, this disorientation is wonderful. How glorious to feel momentarily lost when we live in a land of tarmac roads and mobile satnav. We are soon back in well-trodden sign-posted normality.

There is no breezy, springtime forest now; the air is stiflingly humid, like a Kew Glasshouse. When the path dips low, we often hurry on, feeling a little dizzy from the lack of air. At other times we stand under a rare gap in the canopy and gulp in lungfuls’s of air greedily. There is a particular greenwood smell that fills us with life like pure oxygen.

Overhead, branches twist and turn, seeking the daylight. My son and I like to spot the silhouettes of letters hidden in the leaves. Aptly, the canopy that casts shade over our favourite sketching bench forms a little “S” to mark the spot.

From above, to below. Crouching down, a whole other world opens before us. At the level my one year old daughter sees, rain drops perch like tiny globes. Is this why children see magic everywhere?

Throughout the woodland, there are imaginary worlds to discover, if you allow your eyes to roam and imagination to wander. Whenever my little daughter joins me on my daily walk, she sees mouse towers and castles everywhere. She calls down into gnarled holes in the bark to inhabitants within and joyfully points out steps and entranceways.

My daughter will also knock politely on tree trunks, because she is convinced squirrels live inside and will come out to play if cordially invited. On one walk I spot a tiny mushroom that looks so alike a miniature door handle that for a moment I think she might be right.

Finally, there are the microscopic habitats that our eyes are just not adapted to spotting. The craggy volcanoes and tropical jungles that form entire worlds … all on the top of an old tree stump.

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50 Comments Add yours

  1. John says:

    Beautiful photos, an incredible amount of green!! โค๏ธ๐Ÿ‡ฌ๐Ÿ‡ง

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you John ๐Ÿ™‚ Everything is very green right now … from fields to forest ๐ŸŒณ

      Like

    1. Thank you Becky! ๐ŸŒฟ๐ŸŒธ

      Liked by 1 person

  2. tootlepedal says:

    The door handle is very good.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you ๐Ÿ™‚ I seem to find them everywhere now that my daughter has pointed them out ๐ŸŒฟ

      Like

    1. Thank you! ๐ŸŒฟ

      Like

  3. candidkay says:

    Beautiful! Thank you for taking all of us with you๐Ÿ˜€

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much Kay ๐Ÿ™‚ Glad to have you along ๐Ÿ’š

      Like

  4. Vicki says:

    What a wonderful walk (and photos). I feel your sense of awe and mystery as to the invisible inhabitants around you. The child in me shares your children’s imagination. I wish I was there instead of sitting in my desk chair reading about your walks in nature.

    Like

    1. Thank you very much Vicki … I’m, glad you are able to join us, even if it’s only virtual ๐Ÿ™‚ The tricky bit is getting back indoors to write it all down, it’s so easy to be outside all day at the moment as we’re getting some very rare summer sunshine x

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Vicki says:

        You almost need a tiny old-fashioned cassette recorder to ‘voice some notes’ on the walk, but that would detract from the sheer spontaneity and fun of the walk and divert the children’s attention from adventure and discovery.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. That’s an interesting thought …. I might have to try this when I am out walking alone. I do take a little notebook/sketchbook with me but I have never thought to record my voice ๐Ÿ™‚

          Liked by 1 person

          1. Vicki says:

            If you can find one, then perhaps it’s worth the effort (of getting a cassette player). One of the reasons why I don’t blog every day now is that I can’t remember the details of my past nature walks, (except by looing at the photos I took that day which jog my memory somewhat). Since I’m reliant on photos from my archives to share online now, I really need multiple images to create a storyline. I’m a visual person but do have health conditions which affect my memory and cognitive function. I’m at my best in the mornings, so that’s when I use my computer.

            Like

  5. Beautifully written, it’s so important to encourage children to imagine and to spend time in nature. ๐Ÿ˜Š

    Like

    1. Thank you! I think once you have your imagination ignited, it never leaves you x

      Like

  6. Oh to see through the eyes of a child. How wonderful, knocking on trees, to invite squirrels to come out and play and seeing mouse towers everywhere. I’m going to look more carefully on my walk today!

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    1. Hello ๐Ÿ™‚ Yes! My daughter is currently at that lovely stage where every flower or rock has to be inspected … it’s a great reminder to me to pause and look about me x

      Liked by 1 person

  7. A magical post incorporating the children’s different eye levels. Just one example of your liquid language is ‘in search of softer, diffused shade.’ Lovely photographs, too.

    Like

    1. Thank you Derrick – I cannot tell you how much you feedback helps, and gives me confidence to be bolder in my choice of words ๐Ÿ™‚

      Liked by 1 person

      1. That is lovely, Tiny

        Liked by 1 person

  8. Sandra says:

    Beautiful. What a joy to share your daughter’s view of the woodland kingdom ๐Ÿ˜Š

    Like

    1. Thanks so much Sandra – we were only saying today that even our little garden is a huge adventure to our toddler daughter, as all of the cottage garden flowers tower way above her ๐Ÿ™‚

      Like

  9. “It is easy to step away from the path, but having taken a winding route, it is more difficult to find our way back.”
    True of many things in life, and this would make an excellent line in a book. Great that you have a green kingdom to explore.

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    1. Ah thank you Laurie … I am trying very hard to look through the 30,000+ words of my little website and find the story arc within! I am sure there must be a book hidden in there somewhere ๐Ÿ™‚

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I think you’re right! Good luck.

        Liked by 1 person

  10. Beautiful pictures. S marks the spot especially!

    Like

    1. Thank you! We’ve always called it our sketching spot … and only recently spotted the ‘S’ that was above us all along x

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      1. That’s so lovely, brought a smile to my face x

        Liked by 1 person

        1. Brilliant – that’s everything I hope for ๐Ÿ™‚ x

          Like

  11. Adele Marie says:

    What a beautiful walk and I believe in knocking on tree trunks too. It’s only polite. ๐Ÿ™‚

    Like

    1. Your comment made me smile so much ๐Ÿ™‚ … of course! you can’t just go barging in on the squirrels … you have to be invited ๐Ÿ™‚

      Liked by 1 person

  12. Jo says:

    What I love about your posts is the sense of wonder in every one of them. This was no exception. Thank you.

    Like

    1. Thank you so much Jo … I really try to convey this and it makes me so happy that it is coming through in the writing x

      Liked by 1 person

  13. Love the dewdrops and the knocking politely for squirrels. There’s a UK calendar contest that might

    Like

    1. You are too kind! The standard is so high ๐Ÿ˜ฎ You’ve made my day though x

      Liked by 1 person

  14. Wonderful post and photos!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you Tierney! ๐Ÿฅฐ

      Liked by 1 person

  15. Halbarbera says:

    Beautiful photos of imaginary worlds……

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much ๐ŸŒฟ

      Liked by 1 person

  16. So restful, thank you. anne

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much ๐ŸŒฟ

      Like

  17. Sustain blog says:

    Wonderful pictures and prose. Thank you!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you! ๐ŸŒฟ

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you very much! ๐Ÿ™‚

      Like

  18. moragnoffke says:

    I love the idea of knocking for the squirrels… I can just imagine it.

    Like

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