The sanctuary of small landscapes…

edge of the woods, autumn

I woke early this morning- the old black dog is stalking me again, so sleep has become a little erratic. So I took the camera, and went for a walk.

Behind our house, there are woods. Squelch your way in there, and you are in a small pocket of wilderness- deer have squashed flat all the bracken, and the dappled forest floor is alive to all sorts of smaller creatures who live in the leaf mold. If you listen carefully you can almost hear the noise of their lives- chattering, fighting, consuming and copulating amongst the spoors of the autumn fungi.

leaf mold

And I am reminded of an old way of coping- from boyhood. The temporary exile into green spaces. To look for who I am, and to stand on the edges of the world looking in from the outside.

fallen branches

There are big landscapes hereabouts. Huge eyefuls of mountain and sea- vistas that swallow you whole and allow you to disappear.

But for now, I need the small ones. I need the nook and the hollow. I need the shadow cast by sun in trees. And the dance of the falling leaf. I need to tread carefully around mushrooms and step over the tracks left by something small and furry.

beech leaves

I am reminded of an old poem- written a few years ago, in a similar frame of mind, if in a very different season-

When I was a child
I saw as a child
Small
In the small things of landscape
Deep in the tickling grass
Held in the hollow of slow summer days
Now, like the grasshoppers
Ghosts of memory
Gone forever

But now I am grown
And the woods are no longer wild

My dragons died through education (at least for a while)
And the noise of cars on the B6139 heading for Newstead
Drove away the bears.

Instead I lift my eyes to the high places
Where horizons roll from ridge to ridge
Always higher, always further north
Crossing the high, hard won corrie
Blood pumping
Free for a while
From the baser motives-
Above it all.

Slower now
At the end of heavy days
And in good company
I look again beneath my feet
And try not to trample flowers

2 thoughts on “The sanctuary of small landscapes…

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