I am met by a deep blue tide of bluebells as I enter the wood… and standing in it, almost knee deep, watching me closely, is a beautiful roe deer. I try not to make a sound. I have binoculars so I can see the black nose and pale nostrils, the wide ears turned towards me listening, the dark eyes watchful. The deer’s fur is gleaming, a rich red against the blue and vibrant green of the spring. Small, velvet, perfectly symmetrical antlers rise neat and clean to the height of the ears. We observe each other, both alert, both uncertain about what will happen next. To me, the view seems exquisite. Not to the deer apparently. Having considered me for a while, it moves slowly away taking dainty steps on long, elegant legs. A sudden spring over a fallen log and it’s gone from sight, hidden by the trees.
The wood is much greener now – as the breeze blows, a myriad of green shades shiver on twigs – from the yellower oak to the red tinged sycamore, and the deeper green hazels. Holly is dark, shiny green and festooned with tiny white blossoms while mosses, drying out on the forest floor are khaki. And through the greens, blue in swathes, deeper and more long lasting than I have ever seen it. The cold weather seems to have held the bluebells in stasis and without the harsh contrast of sunshine, the vivid colour is intense. The smell of flowers drifts on the air.
There is a buzz in the canopy. Hoverflies investigate as I sit, their hum mingling with the gentle patter of rain hitting leaves. Birds twitter in subdued tones – I’ve barely seen any out in the open. They are so furtive you could almost imagine there had been a mass exodus from the wood. But I know many nests now, and if I watch them out of the corner of my eye, adults are passing rapidly backwards and forwards, entering with beaks stuffed with food and exiting, seconds later looking harassed.
Walking on, the sun emerges and immediately the humidity rises. Paths are bathed in light and heat, and there is a rising smell of new leaves and mulch. Speckled wood butterflies circle in shafts of warmth and brazen grey squirrels lope unhurried from my path. I take the time to sit, the sun on my face, breathing in the spring. A time of hope and new beginnings. Today, I have seen blue tit chicks hatched from the egg this morning and a wasp starting her nest with the first paper arches. I can hear lambs calling in the fields below and the nuthatch chicks shouting for food in the nest above. The wood is alive with fresh life, full of the energy of regrowth. What a wonderful place to spend time and rest before the hectic week ahead.