Over the last month, the wood has taken on a relaxed, holiday feel; sultry warmth tempered by lush leaves, light strobing though the breeze-stirred canopy to the dusty ground below. In heftier winds, branches sway, sun patches bounce and shimmer over the woodland floor – it gives the impression of being lit by a celestial disco ball. Oaks look particularly strong in these summer tempests; pondering old men standing steady while hazel and ash billow around them.

As we have worked on repairing one of the fallen walls in the wood, there has been a constant drone of insects above. A brood of little stumpy-tailed wrens has kept us company, and crèches of baby tits and chaffinches have passed by, chattering happily. In the distance we have heard rumbles of thunder, the calls of an owl family, while close by the comforting burble of a kettle provided the backbeat with the buzz of foraging bees.

The wood is entering its summer recess, its quiet phase between the explosion of spring and the fervour of autumn preparations. This doesn’t mean there’s nothing to see, although at the moment, my experience of walking through the wood has changed. I used to be alone during my visits on early-summer weekdays. Now, always accompanied by three or four children, we make quite an entrance. Stealth isn’t an option. I miss seeing the hare, catching up-close glimpses of birds on the woodland floor or glimpsing the burst of a deer in the distance; the wildlife has plenty of warning with all of us thundering about. But there are plus sides to being a party of six, there are other eyes to spot things I might not have noticed or experienced if I was alone; the piece of fossilised coral Amos picked up from his scramble near the cliff edge of the wood, the song thrush nest with the newly hatched chick weakly wobbling its head over three siblings, still in their bright blue eggs. There was the huge red deer antler I stumbled over while I loitered, waiting for the children to collect everything they needed from the car; Mark found the other – they are so heavy. Incredible to think of the male deer lifting these all season – it reinforces to me how immensely strong red deer neck muscles have to be. Amos found a woodlouse on the path – he picked it up and put it on a wide tree trunk. He watched it for a while, as the woodlouse navigated the furrows in the rough bark, then announced, “He’s happy!”, before dashing on ahead to catch up with the others. Then there are the tantalising clues I might have missed – a strange smell of fish around our egret nesting platforms, twists of honeysuckle bark and moss in a couple of the dormouse boxes; are these creatures here? Intriguing possibilities. We definitely have fox cubs – we have seen them on our camera traps – and the badger cubs we have seen with our own eyes. The wood is never the same two days in a row. Each visit brings new discovery, exciting things to look at. Things are always changing…

Drops of rain merge into the sheets of water rippling down the window. I’m trying to ignore the irregular tap of drips dropping into the bucket under the lintel; the leaks have started again. Only two days ago we were basking in the heat of a glorious sun; today I am contemplating lighting the fire. I expect that next time we go to the wood we will find the woodland floor scattered with green leaves, the new track strewn with twigs and small branches we might have to move to take the car past; we will find the dryness banished. We will discover a wood changed from of late.  And with the change will come the chance of new adventure,  what will we find on our next visit? We’ll have to wait and see…

2 thoughts on “Change

    • treesofsanctuary June 30, 2020 / 9:04 pm

      Thanks 😊 I do love the warm weather when it comes our way, and so, I think, does the wood…


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