Yesterday was another one of those days when I realised with a jolt that the woods have moved onwards through their seasonal journey without me noticing. I watch eagerly for the first signs of spring, then sit back in relief knowing we’ve come through the winter. But the woodland doesn’t sit back and relax. Those first signs are just the beginning. The wood has serious work to do. We have been at the wood very regularly recently and we have had a couple of warmer days with some sunshine. I should have seen it coming, but somehow the woods diligent growth into spring still crept up and surprised me. As we arrived at the wood there was a spark of blue in the thick green carpet of leaves now covering the wood floor – surely not… I rushed over with Peta and Amos. It was true – our first bluebell was beginning its bloom. Then, on the way up the hill to basecamp, the primrose I had been watching for days was open; such a delicate spring yellow.
The wood was full of animal prints, nuthatches had stuffed last years great tit residence with mud and were nest building, sap was running from cut stumps previously dry and the hazel buds had begun to unfurl into crumpled leaves of pure vibrant green. There are deer scrapes, badger paths, and the sound of birds. Unfortunately the mice, taken up with the spring feeling, had got into the shed, eaten through the bags holding our tent poles, had a go at my leather welding gauntlets I use to handle the cast iron cooking pots on the fire and shredded my pan scrubber, distributing the mess generously around our storage shed. Hey – you can’t have everything.
We stayed late at the woods and there was warmth in the air. Our family worked together on our latest project in the evening light. We argued and fought, laughed and played, observed and revelled in the freedom the woods offers. Then as the sun dropped behind the hills, with the children reeking of the wild garlic they’d been browsing on throughout the day, we left the wood bound by another experience, another achievement and another precious memory of being together.