I got a call from the tree whisperer asking me if wanted to go spend some time in the forest with him and his sister. One of the things I miss about the U.S. is being able to hike in the woods for days without ever seeing a road or clearing for miles. In the UK, this is a rarity.
So when the tree whisperer asked me if I wanted to go to the Forest of Dean, I said yes, of course.
The tree whisperer was on a quest. He was using the Christmas holiday to explore the few forests that remain in England. He wanted to see what he could learn from the trees.
Trees remind of the Druids who were a class of Celtic priest who believed in the sacredness of trees. They conducted their religious ceremonies in the open-air oak groves. The word druid is said to be derived from the Celtic words for oak and truth du and druidh.
Of course the Romans painted the Druids as a nefarious group of long robe wearing men who sacrificed humans for the sake of trees.
We didn’t have a plan, or a map when we arrived at Parkend, which is situated at the southern end of the Forest. There’s only one thing to do in those circumstances and that’s to pick a cardinal direction and start walking, but not before feasting on a couple of jam sandwiches.
We started north up a hardball road and then took the first cut in the woods we found. After 10 minutes the rush of the road faded and was replaced with the soft quietness of damp woods. Childhood memories of me wandering in the woods near our house drifted in and out of the smell of pine needles.
It’s been a few years since I’ve been in a woods this deep. We walked for a few hours, stopping and playing along the way. When I was a kid, I used to wander in the woods and marvel at the abundance of flora and fauna. I was pleasantly surprised to find the magic of the woods still alive.
Sadly, the shortness of winter days limited us to a few hours of frolicking in the trees. When the spring comes, I plan to revisit the Forest and explore some more.