A gentle mist blows in whispers, until gradually, it is warmed away by the rising sun. The walk to the wood is cool, but the sky is cloudless. Today is the day. Even just looking over the wall into the wood takes my breath away. Intense, delicate blue pools beneath oak, around stumps, in dells, stretching away into the distance in waves of tone. It’s glorious. Moving though the wood, I sail a bluebell ocean of perfect colour.
I have tried everything, with the exception of buying a very expensive camera, to capture the beauty of the wood at this time of year, and I have failed dismally. I try again, but it’s like trying to catch a rainbow; as I move closer to the dense blue, it fragments into individual bells, splashes of vivid colour against spring green, the blue horizon moving to remain distant, out of my reach. I wonder if by crouching right down among the flowers, I could bring the explosion of amazing blue closer, but my attempts are frustratingly useless. I sit flomped in the bluebells like some monstrous flower fairy. All is quiet except for the buzz of a bee and the bird song. It is so lovely, I go on sitting, not wanting to disturb the silence.
I can’t remember ever sitting in the middle of a bluebell patch before. It’s a completely different experience to walking through one. It took being still among the flowers to realise what is missing from my photographs. The beauty of the bluebells is not just the beauty of each individual flower frozen into two dimensions – there is so much of the experience that cannot be put into a photograph.
I know I should be heading home, but bluebells are so ephemeral; by the time I come here again they may already be fading. I stay still, wanting to hold the moment in my mind. It is warm, sitting in the dappled sunlight. The smell of the bluebells drifts in and out with the lazy breeze. Far into the distance the woodland floor is swirled with paintbrush strokes of blue. As the flowers bank away from me, individual bells merge to form a swathe of the deepest, most perfect blue, and on a far plateaux at eye level, I can see a stripe of blue mist encircling the tree trunks. I hear a woodpecker drumming, the odd rustle and a refreshing silence. But in all this stillness, the bluebells are in constant motion, their bells quivering with the slightest movement of air, the flight of a bee, the movement of an insect. The bluebells are not still for a second and perhaps it is this almost imperceptible shimmer that cannot be captured on film. The wood is so peaceful just here. It is such a wonderful time of year. And maybe the beauty is all the more special because I cannot capture it, because it has to be enjoyed here and now, in nature’s time frame and on nature’s terms. When I finally drag myself away it is with the knowledge that I have something very special to remember, something quietly magical I can store away inside… I do love the bluebells.