Today Mr Gaucho, the dogs, our cat and I leave the wood. We have lived here for six and a half years, and it's been quite a revelation. I have always been a bit nervous of woods. I suppose The Wind in the Willows did it - all those evil faces in the wild wood! So I was a little apprehensive when we first came here. The house is surrounded by trees, although not dark in any way at all. We face south, to the sunshine. It wasn't long before I came to love the presence of the trees - lime and sycamore mostly, with some beech, silver birch and others mixed in. When the wind is wild, they shelter us from the blast, although the roar as the wind rushes through the trees can be terrifyingly loud- especially at night time ! The deer, badgers, foxes and occasional hare that pass through the wood leave their pathways, which always enchant me. The birdsong is magnificent, with the dawn chorus starting at 3.15 am in late spring and early summer. At night the owls hoot, a haunting beautiful sound. You get a real sense of sharing the wood with these wild creatures and it's been a privilege.
The passing of the seasons is intense in a wood. Snowdrops carpet the late winter woodland floor, closely followed by daffodils as spring arrives. The springtime green of the new leaves is vibrant and zingy, and I love to see the sun slanting through the woods, early on a summer morning. The wood is cool on a hot day, full of wild raspberries, and overhead buzzards soar and mew. In autumn, blackberries are there for the picking, and the wood can be misty and mysterious, the trees and undergrowth buttery yellow and tawny in colour. And in the winter we can see through the bare trees, to glimpse a field beyond. If we are lucky enough to have snow, the wood becomes a magical place.
Early yesterday morning we had a rare visit in the garden from a young deer with her two fawns. I spotted them not far from our bedroom window. And later in the day I took the dogs on our last walk from the house, around my favourite field, which is particularly fruitful at this time of year. Luckily we saw a hare. It would have been a massive disappointment not to have seen one on this particular day. They have been such a feature of my walks around here, and I will miss them hugely.
We are not moving far away and these favourite haunts will be there to revisit. I know Tilly will enjoy that too. Ted is still discovering the joys of the fields, the high speed hares, the pheasants that fly up from underfoot, in a squawking panic. He won't be feeling as sentimental about it all as much as Tilly and me. But we will be back, just to make sure things are ticking over nicely.