We made a run for it, bustled everyone into the car and drove to the wood before the downpour began again. It had been raining all morning, the weather had been grey and miserable all week. We’re all feeling grey and miserable at the moment; so many pressures even for the children – homework, extra hours of coaching that are non-optional, upsetting happenings at schools, stresses of exams and compulsory sporting events. We are so very lucky that we have our escape, but as we approached, not even the wood was lifting spirits. Amos and Melody had got into a fight, resulting in Amos being hurt and Melody having her screentime allowance withdrawn for the day. Peta was only coming along because she “didn’t want to be left at home alone,” and Joe was only coming because we “needed to get the job done,” (we were planning to clear the rolls of old broken fencing wire from where the new fence has been put in).
Mark and I knew this year was going to be a bumpy one; many things loom dark on our horizon, not least the next placement move for Joe; even as I was writing my blog optimistically hoping for a peaceful Christmas (Dec 17th) I received two phone calls from Joe’s school, both leaving me in tears of frustration, both increasing my dread of the year to come. It had taken a lot of effort for me to even make it to the wood this afternoon. Things didn’t look promising. The mud on our way in was glutinous, there were puddles everywhere and the sky was glowering.
The wood looked foreboding, empty, but our arrival was noticed. Blackbirds shouted warnings as we approached, and despite the grumpy tones, the sound was welcome. Recently the wood has seemed so silent, almost uninhabited; today it still smelled cold and damp, there were still dark pools of water in each fallen leaf bowl, but a subtle change had taken place. There had been a slight lifting of mood, a slight greening of the moss, a slight brightening of the gloom. Light was shining in from a higher angle, and bursts of tentative bird song rang clear now and then. There was the smell of fox, the digging of badgers whose paths have become clear again; rocks in the pathways were newly scored with claw marks where badgers had scrambled over them. And, in glorious emerald, through the leaf litter, showed the first shoots of the blue bells.
I find it incredible that soon the wood will undergo dramatic change, as waves of violet bluebells sweep aside the grey. And yet it will happen – the Earth will continue to move through its space, turning the seasons, bringing the spring. The bluebells will come banishing the gloom, the bare brown mud, the forlorn emptiness of the winter. The shoots are the wood’s sign to us that if we can just hold on, things will change. Again the wood is showing us the way, again somehow its branches hold us steady and again I am left wondering, where would we be without it?