I spent time in the woods this week. I sat in the woods, poked around in the woods and waited in the woods I like to wait in the woods. My waiting isn’t like waiting for a bus, or a friend, or something normal to, well, happen. It’s living in a condition if you will. A state of not knowing what’s about to happen as I turn over a log or stand beneath a tree. Discovery for me, as I spend time alone in the wood, is the increased awareness I sense as I listen and touch, smell, watch and taste.
A vixen cries, a dove beats still woodland air, a chaffinch calls out. I look to the canopy and grey squirrel launches under the green filtered light. The branch bends under the landing weight and springs him higher to the upper beech nuts he feeds on. I look away and down to the cherry log now decayed beneath my feet. I tap it’s hollow trunk now lying in the ferns.
The trunk peels back and the orange wood with animal runs crisscrossing the sapwood remind me of something past. I wait a moment and listen again. My memory stirs and then my mind places me in the den of hazel branches in Bramhall park, near Stockport.
I hear the river below me and think more of my youth, the rivers I crossed, the seas and oceans to Texas and the United States. New forests of Mesquite and Ashe Juniper, Bois d arc and Cedar elm. Dense, heavy woods I came to know in the raw and uncut form and then the cut form and then the refined and finished form. How much I loved those woods and how much they meant to me and provided for me. My fire box was warm in the cold wintery workshop nights, from my waste offcuts then ax split and dry. It’s a lovely thing to work into the night and hear the plane smooth the wood and the saw cut the tenon. I talk to myself on my own. Out loud. I talk to others if they are with me. Such is the way of the man who works wood with his hands. Who walks humbly in the forest and woodlands to consider the raw source of wood.