…it’s such a magical month, when the only thing that stays the same is the constant change. Petals fall along the row, while our old friend the cherry tree tries on its autumn colours, a few leaves at a time.
‘Hello cherry tree, cherry cherry cherry tree, hello cherry tree, make apple juice for me?’
(Play begins at once, of course. Between the park and here we witness errant monkeys, hungry puppies and a party-organising committee overcome a major diplomatic crisis.)
On the lane the silver dollars glimmer, ethereal amongst nettles grey from dust. Tines of cow parsley parched and bleached to hay are snapped and held aloft like guiding torches snuffed of flame. Onward!
The last of the ladybirds have landed on bramble leaves, not hiding well enough to herald small fingers to the final plump berries that fuel our walk. When the breeze picks up we watch the clouds barrow across the sky above the farmer’s field, our bow to shoot from, where to today?
The answer is, most often: anywhere! Everything still so mild and kind, our many sites beckon, their irregular patchwork an open invitation to explore.
We have days sunlit and windless at Crystal Gnome Den, the bright beech light a clean and green illumination under whose sieve we play, safely held, on ground drained and dried through a long summer.
We have days cocooned in the coolness of the Moonden, air rich with damp, the children take three laps of the leafpile racetrack before returning with crooked fingers of dried pine to help feed our hissing fire.
Chalked faces dart from trunk to trunk, gathering props. Interactions are glowing with good humour.
‘You’re a silly!’
‘Yes I am!’
‘Where’s that smile?’
‘In my tummy.’
Above the buzzard loops a loop. The sound it makes, a hula-hoop. Spiders ascend and descend trees on a glistening highway of slug trails. Mushrooms bloom on logs cake-soft from rot.
Secretly, red squirrels flick in golden commas through the pines, always in peripheral. The woods are as full as lungs.
Our end of day is still played out in brightness, when it’s lovely to be able to see the joyful smiles of greeting, to show off the treasures found throughout the day without the need of artificial light.
There’s time to send the swings soaring again, to shrug off bags and kick off shoes, to run, free through the warm grass, before home.
Mazz Brown (September 2021)