Alone in the woods in the early morning. This time is so special. I have set off from home, leaving the children with Mark – they needed a lie-in this morning, but are coming later to help as we start lifting the rafters of the barn roof. I creep up the track. The sun is not yet up and the dim light seems to swirl round me like liquid rather than shining in from a source above. The tawny owl is calling, over and over, insistent.
“This is my place, my place, my place.
I listen, searching for its form in the trees. It must be watching me, but it is spectral, invisible to my eyes.
Rain mists down so lightly that I’m not sure it is raining. Rather there’s a gentle veil of water that strokes my skin as I walk. With each light gust of wind, wet leaves tap their way through the canopy, swish through the air, clatter to the woodland floor. The ground is thick with them, a heavy, sodden rug which obscures paths and mosses, rock and grass; a perfect winter home for all the invertebrates vital to the life of the wood. This carpet is woven with many colours, red through orange to yellow and brown. The ghostly leaves of the whitebeam shine up as relief detail through the dim light.
A deer starts to bark; it’s competing with the owl still calling, claiming its territory. The wood is moving to the autumn’s rhythm. The air is thick, hard to see through; as the sun rises, trees are indistinct, blurred by moisture held in the air. Moss drips, grass and leaves bend and shimmer with water slick. Fungi are pushing up, ferns are dying back. The wood wraps me in the cool autumn day. The peace is calming, the sounds and muted colours restful. The autumn has a beauty of its own as life within the trees begins its retraction, preparing for winter’s sleep.