Standing beneath bare trees, with frozen fingers and numb toes, I ask the children for their favourite recollections of the wood this year. Despite aching cold they recall summer camping, trampolining games, cooking paella over the fire. Their faces, bright with happy memories, bring light into the dark wood and as we tramp the paths, stamping feet and wiggling fingers, warmth returns.
The children have been playing with ice – part of the reason for their cold fingers. Water, collected on their trampoline, is frozen. Despite the cold, there is no ice on the woodland floor; frost is only evident on the top of stumps or on isolated fallen branches. The ground is wet mud and mulch. But there is the beginning of renewal, tiny shoots, the promise of a bluebell drift.
Looking back over the last year, we are so fortunate that the children glow with memories of fun in the trees. The wood has been more of a sanctuary than we could ever have imagined, a place of perspective and respite in what has been the most difficult year many of us have experienced. Nature has a way of bringing peace.
As we quietly move to the close of this year, our dreams for the next year hang in the trees; I hope 2021 is the year that everyone needs it to be – a Happy New Year. So I leave you with Amos’s ‘firework display in ice’ – a picture from nature to celebrate the New Year that is on its way – and send very best wishes to all for a Happy 2021.