In the middle of my life's road I awoke in a dark wood where the true way was wholly lost. DANTE The Divine Comedy
Just at the spot where the embankment disappears, and a long railway cutting begins, lies my Secret Wood. Today it's much as it always was - darkly canopied, the floor creeping with ivy. It fills a natural bowl between the railway line, a farmer's field and a low, curving cliff of red clay banded with gypsum...
The fox holes in the cliff are still there, but whether a family of foxes lives there now I can not tell.
This tiny wood, like most woods, always conspired to withhold many of its secrets, and it still feels the same decades later. Perhaps something new and startling would be revealed behind the next tree, or after the next bend in the path? But there were ever more trees, and ever more bends leading you somewhere and nowhere.
A few birds are calling - chaffinches, blackbirds, a hidden robin whirring away in the undergrowth. A lone cyclist hisses by on the trail - oblivious to the grown child, which is myself, skulking in the bushes just ten yards away.
A dead branch cracks like a pistol shot as I step on it.
A small, central glade is a pool of light.
To be continued...