I wasn’t that sure about a short walk. My usual walks anywhere are based on the availability of a toilet. And it looked like rain was about to spill. My brolly was in the boot of the car.
We decided it wasn’t really a day for walking. One of us was really not up to it so we drove the minibus up to the woods. Beside the woodland classroom, on the veranda, under a sloping roof, was a picnic table that we could all sit around.
The topic was autumn. The forest wasn’t quite there yet – just the occasional splash of golden leaves on an otherwise green leafed tree.
Autumn isn’t my favourite time of year. I’m a spring girl at heart. Autumn speaks to me of short days, long nights and an absence of much required sunlight. It’s not the absence of heat that bothers me, but I need my dose of sunlight.
We listened to a few autumn inspired songs and there was a sheet of famous poems - Yeats and his season of mists and mellow fruitfulness. We settled into writing. I made lots of notes but there wasn’t an emerging poem in the words or phrases. I had an idea of a just-before-bedtime feel about the forest. The year of spring with its furious bursting of life, and summer with its enjoyment of sunshine and breezes was not yet at the winter sleeping under the snow blanket stage. It was as if the forest was in the time just-before-bedtime. There was a changing of the outdoor playing clothes of green, to the indoor almost-bedtime of something softer and gentler like gold. I know some children that resent going to bed and put it off, and put it off, and get grizzlier by the moment. The forest seemed to embrace the winding down of the year.
Short poems are good, right? We sat around the picnic table and read the things we had written. As ever, I recognised that I was in good writing company. There were poems and pictures of squirrels and the autumn scavenge for food to hide away. There were poems of blackberry picking and pie recipes to bake them into. There were childhood memories, and observations about the wood itself and the dogs and children we could hear exploring.
A forest drifts into rest
Bright green garb softens to gold
As birds sing lullaby songs
I liked my line about the birds singing lullaby songs. It’s a first draft. I will plough through my notes to see if I can see some other gems in my scratchings.
We had been there no more than ten minutes or so when it began to rain. Such rain! It was the lightest sprinkling of raindrops. We were under the shelter of the sloping roof. The sun was shining on the rain creating what looked like as gossamer jewelled shawl. So light was the rain and the so delicate was the sunshine hitting each tiny drop – it really was beautiful. Turn your head just a smidgen to the right and there was no rain at all.
“We’re in a rainbow!” someone declared. Had we been back in the town looking up at the forest, we would have seen the rainbow. But we were too close to see the rainbow from the right distance and the right angle. Apparently there is a way to see the rainbow you are in if the light comes from behind you at just the right angle. I moved to stand in the shower to see if I could have my rainbow moment but sun was at the wrong angle and the curtain of water had moved on.
We headed back to a coffee shop to tinker with our words.
As ever, the afternoon didn’t disappoint. I might not have written my best poetry but I sat in the quiet with a group of my friends and we enjoyed the silence and the peace of a forest almost in autumn. There was, as there always is, a lot of laughter, a lot of teasing, a knitted bonnet that did the rounds of various heads and people enjoying each other’s company. Take away the poetry and I would still want to be with there.