As I walk to the woods today, I am transported back into July. I remember how I sneaked away from the children and Mark as they watched the cobbler cooking in the Dutch oven. I recall walking the short distance to my shed, clutching a door mat which was to be the finishing touch, the last addition, my completion ceremony after six months of work.
In the previous February we had been offered a shed, third hand, by a work colleague of Mark’s and we had jumped at the chance. It had been a family effort, bringing the shed through the wood, section by section. We worked together sanding it down, taking out and replacing rotten wood, painting sides and floor, and putting the jigsaw of bits together on a base levelled by Mark and Joe. We fixed the roof, replacing one side with corrugated plastic for light and felting the other. We took out the old opaque plastic window and fitted a glass one. And suddenly, there it was. A waterproof, windproof shed, sitting quietly in the middle of the wood.
I cut out a desk to fit across the shed, taking measurements home to my electric jig-saw that is useless in a wood that has no electric sockets. Miraculously the desk fitted. I painted the inside walls over weeks, put up pictures from my visit to Blackwell, fixed up shelves, added a miniature log burner and chimney, brought a radio, pencils, a kettle. I was making my own space in preparation for the emptiness of autumn, the separation from Amos that I knew was to come, a sanctuary as lives move on without me. And so, on the late July evening I am drawn back to, I can been seen sneaking down to the Cosy Shed, clutching a door mat. Inside me there is a flutter of pleasure of pieces fitting, of a comfortable space. But as I approach, my feelings change.
I can see from a long way back that all is not right. I feel my heart beating faster as my brain tries to make sense of what I am seeing – planks of duck egg blue strewn round the shed. How can that be? What rational explanation can there be for the inside paintwork of the shed to be on the outside. I come closer and as I try not to panic, my thoughts are drawn to the inevitable conclusion that someone has broken in. That my sanctuary has been invaded once again. I feel suddenly overwhelmed by misery and loss. I fling the door mat through the gaping hole where the planks should have been and run back to camp. I remember the tears, I remember my crying shaking my shoulders, I remember leaving the others to go down and deal with the mess. I go back when I am calmer. I am very lucky – nothing has been taken. But something has changed; something inside me. We replace the planks, repaint. I come a few times over the summer to check all is well – but I come with the children and hang back till they coming rushing over to me shouting that there is nothing to fear.
Today I am alone – it is to be my first day back writing. I put off getting to the Cosy Shed. There is so much to see in the wood. So many changes have taken place since I was last here. I spend time photographing the signs of autumn, taking in the detail, recording in my head the way I experience these changes. Gradually I move closer to the shed. The nearer I am, the stronger the feeling of apprehension, of disquiet, of the sense of having to pull-myself-together.
But it’s all okay. I breathe a sigh of relief. I see the roof, the wall, the door. It’s all fine. I walk up to the shed, do a circuit. I unlock the door, open the window shutter, light the fire, fill the bird feeder. Within minutes the nuthatch is back. I sit and write. I’ve done it. I was brave and I’ve done it. The first blog of the autumn term is written and I have forty minutes to spare. I am going to go into the woods without the apprehension. I will watch as the season changes once again, watch as the autumn unfolds around me, once again free to be inspired by nature.