Tuesday, 20 October 2015

Into The Trees










 
 


I went into the woods on Sunday. M was running in a race and I had an hour to spare. It wasn't a wood I know well, so I had a little chat with the trees first, by way of an introduction, before slipping among the branches.

This is an old, old wood. It has been here for well over a thousand years: unhurried, slow-growing, certain. It is a place of gnarled holly groves and the twisted arms of oaks and beech thrown up in supplication. The paths that navigate through it belong to the creatures who live here, they whose ancestors roamed the leafy roads long before mankind came. It is cocooned, deep and soft with the accumulated leaf litter of the centuries.

I didn't go far, but you don't need to. A hundred yards or so and you are lost in a world of trees that deadens the sound of Man and suppresses all knowledge of time. It could have been a thousand years ago, for very little can have changed in the wood since then. There aren't many places you can stand and imagine yourself in another time so completely and with such little effort.

As I stood still and silent, listening to the trees breath, I became aware of the soft sounds of the wood and it's many small, gentle movements. A Robin flew down to the ground and drew up a worm. A Wren darted up a tree trunk and then bobbed along a branch, pausing to watch me in that openly curious way of theirs. Slowly, deer crept out of the undergrowth and, cautious, reticent, paused on the edge of the clearing, watching, waiting, sensing. Evidently concluding that I wasn't a threat they moved out into the open, nibbled a little at the grass, crossed the path and were swallowed into the forest again. 

Time moves differently in Woods. I glanced at my watch, expecting twenty or so minutes to have passed and realised it was more than double that. I was about to head back when a group of ponies came clattering suddenly through the undergrowth. Their agitation caused the air in the wood to tighten suddenly, as if drawing its secrets back into itself. Heads flung up, nostrils flaring, the tension in the sinews of the ponies' muscles broke the silent spell of the woodland. 
They ran on through the trees and a second later the deer reappeared. Not slow and cautious now - they burst from cover, fled across the clearing as if the Devil were at their heels, and tore back into the unsettled trees. Blackbirds began pinking in alarm, a Magpie jarred his warning and a Woodpecker screamed out danger. The Robin disappeared and the Wren bobbed once and vanished. The air in the wood churned in agitation as Time came rushing back.

The cause? The first of the runners was returning home through the trees.


I had the same sense of timelessness standing in our woods this morning, listening to the trees breathing. There has been a wood on this site since at least the 1400s, but I suspect it is much, much older. The trees and I have whispered conversations of The Wildwood, that place that existed after the Ice Retreated before people came. We know each other well. It is friend, confidant and adviser. 

While the dogs were off exploring and I was standing beneath the Elder, mourning the passing of the old apple tree which has been cut back somewhat harshly (but I trust the intention, because I know the human Guardian of this wood is wise in Forest Lore), a Marsh Tit appeared, perched in a branch above my head and sneezed in a friendly manner a few times before flying off towards the stand of pines. A Wren called out from the Sweet Chestnut tree on the bend in the path where the owl box is and Nuthatches squeaked to one another conversationally as they tapped acorns into holes in the Oak. In the new coppice a Robin sang, the liquid notes pouring joyfully into the misty air of a late October morning.

Back home, and it seems the whispered prayer I sent to the Oak Trees for a Merveille Du Jour late last night was heard. Beautiful.





Hope you're all well?

CT.
 






43 comments:

  1. Your words placed me right there in the woods - a heavenly scene.

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  2. Beautiful account of your time in the woods. I really love the idea that they can be so old. I wish trees could talk sometimes. I would love to know what they have seen.

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  3. Out of all your nature posts, I love your tree posts the most X

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  4. A beautiful wood and lovely descriptive words. Well done on the MdJ - what a superb moth it is :)

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    1. I was beginning to think I wouldn't see one this year, but it arrived on exactly the same date as last year.

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  5. How beautifully you write about the enchantments of the ancient Wildwood. It's a magical place indeed. I love to be in places that haven't changed for hundreds of years. It makes me feel alive somehow. I hope it survives mankind. (Just changed that - I'd put "I hope it survives man", it sounded a bit Dude Where's My Car.) The moth is exquisite, quite exquisite. Happy sigh. How I love your blog. CJ xx

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    1. I snorted reading that, CJ. You've reminded me to talk to my children in that ' hey Dude' way more often. They love it, particularly when they have friends here. xx

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  6. Beautiful piece of writing about that magical wood CT. Those trees certainly look ancient.

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    1. Thank you, Weaver. You can't beat an Ancient Forest for magic.

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  7. I find it even more special in visiting the woods at this time of year. Sarah x

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  8. A beautifully evocative post my dear, always a pleasure to read after a day in the office xx

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    1. Thank you, Jo. Soothing balm for the soul xx

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  9. Reading your post made me think of Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit!
    Have you seen those fillms? The woods are stunning in those films and full of life...!

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    1. I have seen Lord Of The Rings and The Hobbit- I love all the old trees and the woods in both. x

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    2. Annie...that is exactly how it made me feel. See my post further down...it is exactly a Lord of the Rings moment.
      Credit to CT and her writing to transport us! x

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  10. oh, but this is so very lovely. so lovely i'm not going to disturb it with my nattering on about how lovely it is. xo

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  11. Beautiful, you should write a book. When I read your posts I always want to shun my hot tea and comfortable chair and run outside. x

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    1. That is the biggest compliment I could wish for, Shauna. x

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  12. The track I was cycling along today has uprooted trees and if you look carefully at the chalk trapped in the roots you can see fossils of sea creatures from when this land was under the sea. I am absolutely convinced that some of the yew trees here could be as old as 10,000 years, dating from the retreat of the Ice Age. I love how history and landscape are intertwined. How amazing that your longed-for moth appeared on the same day as last year. I love your blog too CT.

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    1. There is so much ancient stuff about when you really look at what you're seeing. Yews yes, definitely, old, old, beings.

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  13. Forests have a way of bewitching the soul don't they. Sublime description of bewitchment in this post!
    Jane x

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    1. They certainly do. I still feel under the spell of those old woods, two days after leaving them behind x

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  14. All well here thanks, despite the eye wateringly spicy dinner I made tonight - not the squash one! I hope that it is with you. There is nothing like woods is there, they have a different feel to them than anywhere else, wild but safe somehow. xx

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    1. I love that description Amy- wild but safe, that's it, exactly xx

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  15. Beautiful words, beautiful trees, beautiful nature.
    So lucky to have such an ancient woodland on your door step.
    As I read your post I was reminded of Tolkein...A level English Literature!
    Tolkien had a great love of trees. He would climb them and even talk to them. He disliked the destruction of them. A running theme in Lord of the Rings echoed his feelings. He abhorred the needless destruction of them and defined his characters as good or bad according to their feelings on trees. The Orcs mindlessly cut down trees to further themselves. Sauron's evil power turns Greenwood the great to the black and decaying boughs of Mirkwood and makes Mondor so evil and dark.
    The good people, such as the Elves showed a deep regard for trees. The Ents guarded the forests in a protective way. Aragon's banner symbol is a White Tree.

    I am sure one of those beautiful trees is a Tolkien Ent. Guarding the forest and allowing you to walk and whisper,... as he whispers to tell the animals not to be afraid of you.

    Thank you for such a heart warming, thought provoking post.
    Trees are just magical.
    Sally x

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    1. I love your critique of Tolkein and the trees. I am a fan of his because of LOTR and The Hobbit and also because he was into Anglo Saxon history which I studied at Uni the first time round. Where would we be without trees? I love them :o) xx

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  16. What a wonderul way you have with words.
    I was holding my breath when reading the words, then slowly breathing
    again.

    cheers, parsnip

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    1. Thank you, Parsnip. That means a lot and is very kind and nice of you to say.

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  17. " The Woods are lovely,dark,and deep...". Reading your post ,I am reminded of this line by Robert Frost.The woods are magical and your account of them is too.

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    1. Thanks so much for quoting that- I've been looking for an extra poem I can do with my first years after reading break and that's perfect :o)

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  18. I love that twisted trunk in your first photo. Trees, especially old trees, are solidly reassuring, and old woods and forests are magical places, especially at this time of year. Your post is very evocative. Wow, what a beautiful moth!

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    1. I wondered what had caused the twisting. I think they can grow like that when there's an underground water source nearby, although having just googled it I see there is no definitive answer. I have a friend who says it's Earth Energy.

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  19. I love trees there is something very magical being in the woods amongst them.So many size and shapes, I am obviously not the only one fascinated with their beauty x

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    1. It's lovely that so many people share that sense of magic and awe that woods and forests can give us x

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  20. Hey CT,
    What a wonderful, wonderful piece of writing. I think the woods sensed your understanding and love for the natural world. It welcomed you in.
    Quite right too.
    Leanne xx

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  21. I'm a great believer in not just assuming you can go anywhere without asking. I feel this way especially in woods and forests. Did you know in ancient writings the woods were the place you would go to find out who you were? All those hidden tracks and pathways. I do wish we lived nearer you know. Xx

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  22. So glad your beloved moth came to say hello, it is a beauty. I felt as if I were in the woods with you...so wonderfully described.

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Thank you for leaving a comment. I always enjoy reading them and will try my best to reply to every one. CT x