We have got back from our annual jaunt to Greece and I find an abundance of things I feel I need to write about. Where shall I start?
I feel I need to ponder the unhappiness of a Greece that is being squeezed dry and hungry; there is the appalling cruelty and inhumanity of a so-called civilised Europe that is refusing to take quotas of refugees that land in Italy and Greece, a callousness that makes me deeply ashamed; there is the excitement of the redesign of our house into an entirely new machine for living; there are the massive changes that have happened in the woods while we have been away; I have been swimming with swallows and snakes; and I have had a strange whoozy-stoned-mystical episode in the aforementioned and beloved woods.
Where to begin – and I have to start somewhere!
Maybe I will start with today and work backwards.
So today has to be about the woods in June. It is no longer spring. I can still hear the birds, though it is more a matter of a constant chatter of contact calls than the strident individual performances of the courtship days, but I see no signs of them. Everyone has become hidden, furtive. Everywhere the vegetation has thickened and all the trees are fully in leaf. To someone who can’t see very much, it has become a claustrophobia of greens. Anything ten metres away is invisible.
It sounds, as I write this, like an unpleasant change, but it’s not. The wood has become a fresh vivid green cake, and the sky hangs over it all, watching.
Here and there in the undergrowth there is a late bluebell, and everywhere where the sun can get through there are masses of celandines, and pink campion in the hedge.
The young walnut sapling that had been broken by the winds of autumn, has managed to throw out some signs of new life, and everywhere is growing rich and a bit pushy. The woodpecker chicks have fledged while we were away, which is a disappointment, because I wanted to see them leave the perfect hole that was their nest. I hope it went all right for them.
And then, suddenly, my head became light, and I was a bit dizzy. I had a big stupid grin – where did that come from? And I had this overwhelming desire – no, need – to lie on my back and feel the microbes in the leaf litter tickle my back!
It was a most wonderful feeling that the wood was everything, that the wood was it.
This is why such places are important.