Friday’s Letters

22.05.2020

Words from the Woodland

Hello,

I hope you have all had a good week. This week I received this beautiful prose from ‘K’ who has written about the woodland. I think this is a powerful piece of writing and also a great metaphor that we could relate to many human experiences. I also found a great article all about the Japanese culture of Woodland Bathing and its benefits for wellbeing! If you haven’t heard about it you can read more here.

Here are ‘K’s’ brilliant words:

The Woodland.

The trees congregated together at the top of the hill, all competing in a slow gladiatorial contest for light. Historical evidence of previous battles won and lost played out in their branches. The winners standing tall, and the losers bearing bent limbs and scarred bark. The battle, although competitive, was far from prominent and despite this continual effortful struggle, there were few outwardly visible signs. By contrast the woodland appeared as a picture of natural, graceful, elegance, a place to escape, a place to be enchanted. 

The trees themselves were a mix of native species of oak, elm, and ash, all short three-letter words, but certainly not short in stature or character. Ancient trees with the wisdom of experience, as well as knowledge gleaned from the observation of events across the passage of time. 

When amongst these great grandfathers of the tree world time stood still and nothing really mattered. Concern over past mistakes, struggles of present existence, and the onward dilemma’s to be faced, all disappeared into the canopy above. Like filtering air, the trees tickled worrisome thoughts from the mind with their whispering branches and dancing leaves, recycling it into something good, something productive, something nice, anything but worrisome. 

But it is not only the trees that contribute to this lightening of feelings the flora and fauna do too. Audibly the birds are in charge, crispy chirping rings out with an alarm like tendency, coupled with the number and variance of species it culminates in a cacophony of sound rinsing the leaves in song. Then there is the melodious tunefulness of the true vocalists, those vying to be heard, ‘my song is the best’ they sing, with a projection and fullness it is as if they are singing for the very first time, and when you really listen, it is as if you are hearing it for the first time too. 

The sounds move about the trees with the beating of their wings. Darting in flight it is as if the birds are physically dancing to their own tunes. This audible movement creates an orchestral quality with a natural rhythm. It floats into the ear to calm and soothe even the most troublesome mind. Each moment in time entirely, and perceptibly, different to the one before, a unique avian soundtrack.

The trees listen intently and constantly to this song, with occasional individuals bowing to the beat of the music, whilst adding their own touch of harmony by rustling their leaves as is if they are humming along to the tune. The music gets absorbed into their very cells, and the trees grow in slow melodic time to the theme tune of the woodland.

So although all you see is a group of trees, when you get beneath the veneer of the bark, and you truly listen to what they are saying, the woodland not only speaks historically of competition, rivalry, and battles with adversity, but also right now, right at this present moment, they are speaking and breathing a tranquillity of silence which when you find it, is very hard to ignore.

Let me know if you have a favourite Wood that you visit, or an interesting woodland experience to share.

Look out for tomorrow’s Saturday Art Challenge – I’ve been sketching beetles this week and will share the process of using pencil crayons and water colour paints to create a stag beetle sketch. Stag beetles also live in the woodland – but I’ve heard that they come out after dark! Let me know if you have seen one!

See you tomorrow!
Best wishes,

Emma

Published by Emma

Hi my name is Emma! I am a writer and artist. I work for the NHS at Converge (www.yorksj.ac.uk/converge) and I am also an MA graduate in Creative writing and am currently studying for a PhD in Humanities. I have been leading a creative writing class at the beautiful St Nicks in York (www.stnicks.org.uk) for the last five years. When I am not at work I'm on my allotment or at Base Camp (my home) planning new adventures.

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