It is bluebell season. Bluebells aren’t just blue of course. They are purple. Violet. Lilac. And this time of year is just the time to notice…when some lucky ancient woodlands have a short but wonderful display of these most loved of flowers.
I grew up near a bluebell wood, an ancient wood, surrounded by meadows at its base, before it rises over a hillside.
I helped look after the meadows and wood as a child as part of a ‘working group’ and throughout my life I have walked regularly in them.
I love the wood. It is colder than the meadows that you leave to enter it. The atmosphere is different. Much more still. Calmer. More intimidating. The presence and impact of humans is much less marked than in the surrounding landscape.
There are footpaths and work is done to maintain them, but it always feels to me like the birds, animals and plants tolerate our presence, making sure we know it is their space, and we are just visitors.
It’s constantly noisy; birds (on my most recent visit the hammering of a woodpecker could be heard), the trees bending and creaking, foliage being cracked and shifted by the movement of unseen animals and birds.
On one magical occasion they weren’t unseen. One of my most cherished childhood memories was chancing upon a family of foxes playing just beyond the footpath. We watched them for minutes, desperate not to disturb them in their home.
What a gift from my early life the wood was. It was part of instilling in me a lifelong love of walking and a desire to respect and maintain wild environments. Being able to enjoy the yearly display of blue is a pleasure and a privilege.