The “Teddy Bear’s Picnic” was my “Magic Carpet” song at Cunningham Hill JMI School back in the early 1960s. This was the record I always chose when it was my birthday and we sat on a large school blanket pretending it was Aladdin’s carpet. Well, I am not sure about teddy bears in the woods nowadays but today I was once again awakened to the free but priceless beauty of the woods that we are bequeathed.
Knowing that I was going to be in Northwood led me last night to dig out my Dad’s old “Bartholomew Map of the County of Middlesex”. It showed Northwood to be surrounded by many green areas (most of them now golf courses!). The 726 acres of Ruislip Woods, however, contain no man-made bunkers or immaculate greens just a stillness and majesty of oak, chestnuts and hornbeams with an aura and connection all of its own.
The sun filtered through the remaining canopy and lit up the garnet, ruby and topaz leaves as they flittered and quivered their way down to Earth like jewels from the Gods. No man-made acquisitions could match their beauty.
I understand that my eight month old grandson was found sitting at nursery last week quietly investigating, playing, learning and connecting with some simple leaves and twigs. They cost not a penny. What a beautiful image that is.
Jade, emerald and even some strangely turquoise shades showed on the fronds and foliage still clinging on.
I collected the fairy acorn cups of my own childhood and as I wandered breathing in the peace and majesty of the place and wondered at the girth of some of the ancient tree trunks I almost felt at one with the cloth of gold before me.
As I kicked my way ankle deep through Hopkin’s “world of wanwood leafmeal” I remembered a young lad in a green anorak 28 years ago at Sharpenhoe Clappers trudging through beech leaves which reached higher than his red wellie boots. A memory I will always hold dear.
I was all alone and glorified in the timelessness of these ancient woodlands – here before my birth and I pray to remain long after my death.
The leaves are falling; they will die, turn into leafmeal and return to the earth. The woods will rest over winter and restore themselves – as will we; then will come the Spring and as ourselves will be reborn, older, further along our journey but rested, clean and new.
16 October 2017: This blog is dedicated to the bravest, humblest and most noble man I know. “My heart, my blood and my soul”.