She had skipped into the wood, a daisy chain round her neck, a bunch of wilting buttercups and dandelions in her hand. It had been enchanting and she had stopped and looked around her, the light bright as it streamed through the treetops above, filtered down through budding branches, the birds twittering and chattering full of joy. Full of joy, she was full of joy and she began to skip again, looking around hoping to see at least some bunnies and baby deer if not fairies and elves.
“Hello!” she called. “Hello, fairies, hello!” and she laughed with happiness. She stopped and looked around, the ferns were lush and green, and somewhere she thought she heard a woodpecker knocking as it drilled. “This is an enchanted glade,” she said out loud to herself, and sat on a convenient emerald green mossy log.
She took her notebook and pencil from her pocket and began to write; this would be ‘An Interesting Place‘ that she had to write about for homework. She looked around, her teacher liked plenty of interesting detail, adjectives and adverbs, and metaphors, her teacher liked metaphors, or and similes. I sat on the lichen covered log, and listened acutely to the sounds of the lush woodland all around me. Was that a turtle dove which cooed… But wait, did turtle doves coo? She would check when she got home. She stood up and brushed the back of her skirt, then slipped her journal and biro into her bag.
She sauntered deeper into the forest, taking photos now and then, plenty of material for her art and design project, the light was wonderful, filtering through the canopy, and looking up, she took a couple of pictures of the tracery of branches against the brilliant sky. Somewhere a deer coughed and she stopped and listened, bathing in the sounds of nature. She took a different path, pushing through denser undergrowth; maybe she had missed her way, but no, here was the pool, dark and mysterious. Should she? Dare she? She smiled to herself and began to undress, stuffing her clothes into her backpack, then as naked as a nymph she slipped into the cool water.
The pond wasn’t deep, but deep enough to swim round in small circles. At first she kept her head above the surface, but then she couldn’t resist turning onto her back and floating, looking up at the perfect circle of azure sky above; so what if her perm suffered, she had an appointment at the hairdresser’s next week. She couldn’t spend all day here, and she turned over and stood up, her back twinging as she stumbled over some hidden thing on the bottom of the shallow water. She shook herself to shake off the water and used her t-shirt to dry herself, before pulling on her clothes, her back stiffening in a spasm again.
She made her way through the brambles and undergrowth, using her stick to hold them back where they wove together into a thicket. The air was warm and full of the drone of lazy insects and the occasionally chuckle of a magpie and croak of a rook. Unexpectedly – for both of them, she came across a fox; he gazed at her in surprise and she stared back. She smiled and he sauntered off, casting a backward glance at her, his jaws open as if he was grinning. She leaned on her stick and walked carefully, the track was lumpy with roots and chunks of stone showing through the leaf mould where many feet had passed.
The trees were sparser now, fewer ferns and the clumps and mounds of brambles were behind her. Her progress was slow, but she didn’t mind, the air was balmy and sweet smelling, and the rustle and whisper of the forest was like an old friend confiding in her. She watched each step, and although she leaned heavily on her sticks she felt refreshed and energised. She stopped and turned round. She balanced herself carefully, held both sticks in one hand and carefully pulled out her iPhone. She didn’t want to drop it – not that it might be damaged, but it would be the pain of trying to reach down and pick it up. One handed, she thumbed awkwardly, her arthritic fingers unwieldy, the screen to open the camera and took a few photos – of the trees, of the sky above seen through the web of their limbs, of the multicolours of the leaves at her feet.
She smiled. “Beautiful wood, my beautiful wood, ” she said.