Thursday, 14 November 2013

Lost In The Woods

You can't really get lost in Broxbourne Wood or Wormley Wood; the paths are clear on the ground, the popular routes are generously waymarked and, anyway, it's quite a compact area so if you walk in a straight line you're bound to encounter a road or fence which you can follow. So if you're careless enough to get lost then it's "lost" as in "lost in thought" and "careless" as in "without a worldly care".

Autumn is creeping in strangely this year; some trees have embraced the new season with enthusiasm while others choose to ignore the shortening days and are still rampant in their greenery. Grasses and bracken are filled with the same indecision.

Jays and Magpie swear at each other in the treetops while flocks of tits and finches call slyly in the underbrush. And just through here is a small pond where birds sometimes come to drink. As I push open the gate a Woodcock, that enigmatic shadow-speckled bird and master of camouflage, springs up and makes its urgent but off-kilter flight between the trees.

Sun lances in through the branches and momentarily lights a particular tree, leaving others loitering in the gloom. But the low sun will move on, hurrying across the sky, and the woodland floor will be cast in deep shade long before the sun dips slowly beneath some far horizon 

Footsteps fall softly on the damp leaf-litter, pushing through bowing, dew-laden grasses, then descending carefully down a steep slippery slope between mossy banks.

Here in the valley bottom a tiny stream waltzes over the sparkling gravel to join hands with other waters to journey on towards the sea.

Oak, Hornbeam and Silver Birch are falling under autumn's spell. Yellow leaves drift down like butterflies to settle where they may.

A scattering of yellow jewels settle on a forest pool, denting the fragile, reflecting surface with their tiny weight. 

Up above other leaves look down in all their golden glory, one last hurrah before they take their final bow.

Fallen branches support tiny fungi that will, given time, break down the timber to nutrients for new growth. Another turn of the wheel of life.

Just how many fungi can a child kick over before being struck by their architectural elegance - a fan-vaulted ceiling for ground-dwelling insects.

Meanwhile teenagers are trying the same trick with an old tractor; to break it down and return it to the earth! Coming on it through the wood I almost mistook it for some kind of sculpture.

And now the Hornbeams are twisting and writhing to produce their own kind of sculpture. Is it the agony of slow death or a dance of ecstasy?

Now where the devil has that path gone??!!! 

Take care.


  1. I love all your photos today, especially the one of the leaves on water. I've gone from fall to almost-winter in the space of a few days. Snow has already fallen, and strong winds brought down all the leaves.!

  2. Enjoyed walking with you in the woods. Especially liked the artist photos fungi, trees and leaf photos. I love taking photos of trees and other of nature's creations. -- barbara

  3. A delightful meander with you today John - thank you for sharing. Glorious colours and a great capture of the funghi - your poetic style encourages me to look at my surroundings with less haste! Thank you.

  4. yellow jewels settle on a forest pool; they would've taken my eye too, and the tiny fungi umbrellas - a lovely composition and the under-canopy version is wonderfully textured. On one of Sydney's most famous beaches (Bondi), each year they have a Sculptures by the Sea exhibition - it's possible if those teens could get the old tractor over the big pond, that they could pick up a grand scholarship to progress even further with their metal-art. I really do like the fungi better though. I learnt that Hornbeams are said to be the hardest timber-tree in all of Europe and the faster they can grow up (where light allows them to), then the straighter the trunks will be. Interesting, ancient trees and I love the carpet of autumn leaves showing them off too. You obviously found your way home o.k. John - this post tells me so. Cheers.

  5. Such beautiful light in pic. 1,3,4,5,8. The fungi is like the finest bone china. The hornbeams are fantastic, in more ways than one. Perfect caption for the yellow leaves on the water. A wonderful little spot where one can pretend to be far away from the madding crowd. Such restful scenes in pic 1 and 3.

  6. Oh what wonderful tales could come out of that wee walk

  7. Many of your scenes are similar to what I see on my hikes yet I never take pictures of them thinking "oh hum". But you make them shine. Wonderful pictures of the fungi. I am still waiting for some rains to bring those to life here for me. Great post.

  8. Your words and photos are delightful! I expect the path towards home was calling you after that lovely walk:)

  9. Wonderful pictures and beautiful prose - your walk through the woods must have been so uplifting.

  10. Beautifully written and beautiful photos too. I enjoyed getting lost in the woods :)

  11. Your trees are holding their leaves until they can't hold them one minute longer! The hornbeams are wonderful. They reminded me of the Matisse "Dance" painting.

  12. Thanks to everyone who has commented on these woodland pictures.
    Carolyn H: I think you might find our little areas of remaining woodland rather confining. By the way I don't seem to be able to comment on your blog at the moment. It is as wonderful as ever.
    Carole M: Quite right, the wood of the hornbeam is remarkably tough; it even looks hard as iron when you see it growing. It used to be used for the manufacture of hubs for cartwheels.
    Jack: You've got it! I knew the shapes of those hornbeams reminded me of a picture I'd seen but couldn't put my finger on it.

  13. A totally charming Walk in the Woods. Your photos gave me that feeling of calm and rest that follows such excursions - especially with such fine photography. The mushroom must be my favourite

  14. Just the kind of ramble I love to take! Many nice pics here--the lone tree spot lighted in the woods, the mushrooms, and the brook running thru the woods. We don't get much running water in Louisiana--too flat. It's always been magic to me whenever I encounter one on our western trips.
    It's been a long time since a woodcock jumped up from a path--our woods has grown dry in the climate change.
    The muscled hornbeams--love the look of them.

  15. Wonderful photos and writing, so glad you're back blogging. You're right that the autumn is rather patchy, same here. Lots of green trees still - and yet some are completely bare!

  16. I would very much like to lose myself in such a paradise.

  17. I like the idea of being lost in thought while walking in this woods but I fear I might miss much of the beauty there. It's my kind of place to take my camera.


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