Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Once a path through the woods

One of the joys of living in Bournemouth is the proximity of the New Forest. As most people know, the 'New' is an affectation. It has been there at least since William the Conqueror - indeed his son William the 2nd, was killed (murdered?) there in a hunting accident.

On Saturday, after a tough week for both of us, we decided to go for a walk. We really had no idea where we were going, but we drove off in the general direction of the forest. After about 20 minutes we parked in a little bay called Broomy Walk and started walking. It was a shirtsleeves day and the broadleaved trees provided welcome shelter. Oak, holly, birch, oak again and again and again; you can imagine what a resource this was when King Alfred was building a navy to defend against the invading Danes.

It was easy walking. We tried to identify the birds by their song, but even when we saw them we couldn't recognise them. We have tits and blackbirds, robins, thrushes, jays, magpies, crows, woodpeckers and doves in our garden, but these were not any of those. Blue tits have laid in our nesting box for the second year and we talked about having a larger box next year to attract larger birds. I suggested a huge one with a dead rat in it to attract vultures, but this did not go down well.

We occasionally saw a human or two. They were generally ancient specimens like ourselves seeking the solitude. We imagined what the beaches must be like only 10 miles away. Bournemouth beach is one of the most beautiful in England, but once the crowds descend the aroma of suntan oil drives us away.

We found ourselves in a grove of beech trees. We noted that the casts were green and still on the trees. It was a delightful place; the sunlight was speckling through gaps in the verdure overhead. Above all it felt a place of safety. We spoke about how fortunate we were to live in a land without predators. No snakes to bite us, no wolves or bears, though once they would have lived in this forest. No wild boar, no poisonous spiders; the New Forest is famous for its wild ponies, but their only danger is that they are unafraid of motor cars.

Just then a roe deer ran across the path in front of us. I half expected to hear the whoosh of an arrow from some past king's bow, but it pranced on unconcerned as if there were nothing to fear. And then it was gone.

We walked back to the car. Whatever weighs on our shoulders life will continue.


Jim McVey said...

What a delightful story, it brings back memories for me. I was brought up in Scotland. In the industrial belt springing out from Glasgow, we had a local river named the Calder which wound through fields and woods, no New Forests did we have. To reach the rugged beauty of Scotland meant cycling for 40 or 50 miles to the Trossachs and or one of the coasts.

When I was 12 I traveled to England with my Grandparents to visit an Aunt and Uncle who lived near Godalming in Surrey. I remember being in awe at a specific site, I know not where. There was a brook running through it with dragon flies and butterflies flitting above the running water. It had trees on each side which created a tunnel effect with shafts of sunlight, lighting the water and the iridescent wings of the dragonflies. It was a view for me that was forever England.

That same holiday we attended Navy Week at Portsmouth, where we visited, I think the ill fated submarine called Thetis. Then aboard the Victory I stumbled over the block on the deck where Nelson fell. Maybe that was a portend of my future, in later life I was a member of the RAF Sailing Team who sailed against the Navy Team under the shadow of The Victory and won.

Another memory of England, I flew my first model aeroplane on a Common near Godalming. During our flying we saw a Speed Cop sitting astride his motorbike, a fearsome sight at 12. Maybe he was fearsome because I felt like an alien in a strange country. My cousins were of an age and liked to hear my accent, they were forever introducing me to their friends, saying he’s from Scotland, then prompting me to speak. So then my accent was alien, today it is an asset here in California, thanks to Sean Connery and others, it has stood me in good stead.

Thanks for the memory once again Terry. This what one does at 80 with CLL.

Roger said...

Ah, thank you for the trip. Vicariously we went right along and enjoyed the fellowship.

justme said...

It sounds like a beautiful place for a walk. (My husband wishes he were there to I.D. those birds!)

John Wagner said...

What a beautiful picture you have painted with your words. You took me to a peaceful place and also reminded me to take time to look around and enjoy God's beauty. Thank you.

Pat said...

I truly enjoyed the trip through the New Forest with 'ancient' ones as guides. Thanks.