Tuesday, October 13, 2009

The heart of a sunny wood

Lower Hangings

With very little effort on my part this blog has turned into a Nature Rambler's notebook during this trip to England. Whatever anxiety or worry there may be dissipates the moment I set foot outside, sturdy terrier friend by my side, on these glorious autumn days. I'm really not overusing the world glorious, even though it is a word you'd imagine Mrs Slocombe using. The days are crisp, sunny, yellow and orange and green, the sky is a shiny optimistic blue.

More signs

This morning we wandered through the Lower Hangings in the wood I grew up exploring, walking in, building jumps in. The original paths are there and apart from the aggressive signage mission that the National Trust has embarked on ("Footpath" "The Hertfordshire Way" "Ridgeway" "Ashridge Walk" etc), very little has changed. It's incredibly peaceful, as trite as that may appear. There is the sound of birdsong and the sound of one's feet on the fallen leaves, and that's about it. Standing in King's field, admiring his black-faced sheep, I realized that there is constant movement and loud noises in the city, mostly man-made. This hasn't just dawned on me but I understand more now, having lived in a city for so many years, what my father meant about city dwellers being constantly agitated, "like rats in a cage," he'd say, which is a little unfair. It is almost impossible not to breathe deeper and feel more contented, deep down in what I'd like to call my soul (and the Maharishi would call "a cellular level" or something much cleverer) when in the heart of a sunny wood.

Looking towards Aldbury

Mr King's black-faced sheep

We had the enormous good fortune of hitting the large fields to the west of the village, just as the racehorses were doing their morning gallop. My mother's terrier isn't the most obedient of animals and so hurriedly put him on a lead as soon as I realize we'd be in the thick of it. A concerned owner in a smart blue land rover whizzed towards us over the stubble and said very politely, "Oh hullo, I'm not sure if you realize that some racehorses are coming through here in a few moments." He smiled so kindly, so apologetically really. "Oh yes, I'm quite prepared. Look, I've reined in my beast" I said. Tiny looked appropriately nonchalant. (Why isn't that dogs can't make the right face at the right time?) "Good job" said the nice man. "I am awfully sorry" I said. "I didn't mean to worry you." Sure enough, three minutes later, the horses came pounding by -- three followed by two. So lovely on a chilly morning. One of the jockeys waved and shouted "Morning." "Morning" I shouted back, feeling quite jolly.

A sheep skull hanging in a hawthorn tree

Old Victorian wall along footpath at Brightwood

Dew-soaked field


CampusLady said...

Glorious it is, Mrs Slocumb! Breathe deep, and suck it all up - it will sustain you - and I hope I can absorb some of it from you when you get back!

So Lovely said...

Oh how beautiful. There's just another whole world that lives under the trees in the forest isn't there? (that sounds a little crazy but I was almost sure of it when I was young). xx

westendmum said...

I do feel rather like a rat in a rattled cage at the moment but your description of walking in a wood was good enough to transport me. Why is there a sheep skull in a hawthorn?
WEM xx