Pine needles radiate childhood picnics



May was a frantic month; the peak of the busy season at work and at the allotment. June will be no different by the looks of my diary. I decided to take a walk in some local woods, to calm my soul ahead of another wave of commitments. It is amazing to see, thanks to my regular visits, how the woodland changes as we enter summer. In spring it was a place of dancing light, and the thrill of new growth. Now, the canopy has closed over, filtering the glare of the strengthened sun and creating a deep calm, a cool oasis of green that welcomes, soothes, and gently holds. Even the smell of the woods has altered. Where the conifers are, the fallen cones and needles radiate warmth, resin and childhood picnics. The dominant uprights of the trunks are softened by shuttlecock protrusions of ferns and twining masses honeysuckle. Shield-bugs clamber upwards for a clear flight-line. Above, leaves interlock and layer, each in its own territory of light, screening the sky from view. I walk within this bower, the world spins beyond, and birds move freely between the two. Blue Tits have fledged their chicks, the Great Tits also. Nuthatch spirals downwards, calling. A Great Spotted Woodpecker ascends the trunk of a Silver Birch in staccato hops. The wren forces out a volley of notes. In her outburst of song she seems at once triumphant, vulnerable, agitated, and defiant, and all the better at expressing emotion than I. A stray breeze has found its way inside the wood, stirring my thoughts as it does the leaves of the birch, with gentle touches. I’m ready to face the world again.

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