It’s a glorious feeling, to be blasted with fresh air. I lift my face and breathe in great draughts of it. The trunks and leaves around us have been blow-dried, the sky is blue and the gloom in the wood has lifted. We’d awoken this morning, at home, to sun and the first blob of frogspawn in the pond. Cooped up for long enough by the weather, we’d grabbed the opportunity to get out, setting off for the wood as soon as the risk of being injured by falling branches had lessened. We’d arrived as the gale was subsiding.
There is no missing the fact that weather has happened here. The wood, hit by storm after storm, is strewn with sizeable branches. Twigs are scattered everywhere, and we have a few casualties; the spindle we had been coaxing back from the brink has been smashed by a falling birch, the window has blown out of the toilet shed and a huge oak branch is hanging precariously over the path, held up by a few shreds of lignin. Wherever we walk, we come across random trees torn out of the shallow soil, reclining on neighbours. But strangely, the wood doesn’t feel any worse for its battering; it feels more alive than it has done for months.
As I stand between the trunks, light filters in. The woodland floor is beginning to green with the shoots of new growth. Lords-and-ladies and bluebells are no longer plants that I search for; instead they are an obstacle to movement as I try to pick a way through them without trampling the green spikes. There is a pinprick of yellow, a primrose on the cusp of flowering, and honeysuckle bunting is draped through the trees, leaf flags at regular intervals bursting from the twisting rope stems.
The wind is still blowing, but its voice has changed; its anger has abated, it sounds younger, playful. I can hear it running through the branches above, happy as it gathers up a leaf from the woodland floor, chases it up towards the sky, then tosses it back to the ground. It raises my spirits, to catch the joyful notes in the gusts. It is a glorious feeling, to be blasted with fresh air. I lift my face and breathe in great draughts of it…