“He stood staring into the wood for a minute, then said: “What is it about the English countryside — why is the beauty so much more than visual? Why does it touch one so?”
He sounded faintly sad. Perhaps he finds beauty saddening — he explained that it was due to our knowledge of beauty’s evanescence, which reminds us that we ourselves shall die. (Dodie Smith’s I Capture the Castle)
I can’t agree, I find nature’s beauty uplifting, it’s transience a daily reminder to treasure those fleeting moment’s: be it childhood charm, cappuccino heaven or falling leaves in tangled sunlight.
Our house is beside a wood, in a quiet valley where the season’s weave magic spells around you. I often long to walk their paths again…
Now the Autumn leaves are carpeting the ground as they tumble down and stay there all winter long. Breath in as you enter, the air is richer and nature’s abundance apparent at every turn, in the smallest things: the pitted log, the forager’s mushroom, the lichen on the trees, the skeletal remains of spring, the ubiquitous Cotswold stone…
Even the youngest in the family can walk for miles, kicking leaves, climbing trees and collecting momentoes all around.
The signs are also there that nature’s rest is round the corner, from Old Man’s Beard and Holly berries to graphic dead-on-green.
Take a seat for a moment, catch your breath,
You walk on through the seasons…The clock’s gone back and you are caught out by sunset’s at 5 pm, coral bright against blackening trees:
Early mornings where daylight is swathed in grey, the fields stilled and animals graze amidst reverberating silence.
Inexorably day’s close in, the winter chill arrives, bleak days when earth stands hard as stone and all is frozen.
relieved by days when it’s truly brilliant: glittering white, vivid blue and silhouetted trees…
Christmas comes and goes, New Year’s counted in, now is the season of waiting…you wait and wait for signs of spring, occasionally cheered by moments of beauty, the double rainbow in mid-January you stop the car for:
The crystal clear morning where the valleys roll on forever from the edge of the woodland path.
Finally it is March and the first wood anemones sprinkle the hedgerow and appear underfoot – the bluebells joining in April as vivid green leaves burst forth on the lower branches.
It takes just a flash of warmth at the bottom of the valley where the stream runs clear – the buttercups arrive so profusely it is emerald green and budding yellow overnight.
Then seemingly-Instantaneously Spring is all around… the entire wood becomes scented, wild spring garlic is everywhere
The children fall down in it again and again, until you all lie down – and breath in – not quite believing it’s real.
As everything comes resoundingly to life, there’s a beating heart at the centre of the wood, if I had to choose its origin it would be here – the largest tree, where the branches stretch out in every direction and the trunk pours its vital essence into the ground.
You walk on through to May reverentially beneath trees vaulted above you.
When you finally take your homeward path into the meadow above our house it’s perfect: white, yellow purple all gently buzzing. Everywhere I look another magic moment:
So another annual summit is reached as August hovers over the valley.
Village life has existed beside the beech woods for hundreds of years, Saltridge, Lord and Lady’s, Piper and Foston’s ash – you have provided shelter in all seasons. I think often of this Cotswold valley, its cycle of life, the rhythm of the seasons and the moments of outstanding beauty – particularly now as the leaves fall on city pavements and the nights draw in…’tis the season.
All photos taken by me in ‘i-phone’ passing along woodland walks – where all my best creative breakthroughs happen.