Thursday, 30 May 2013

Fresh Winter Air



For me the wilderness and freedom of the countryside has always been a retreat, a way to escape from my own thoughts. The fresh air always carries something intangible in it, sweet and thirst-quenching, and I love the way it turns my cheeks and nose numb and pink and my hair goes wild and there's no one around to even see. The first few months when I returned home, taking long walks into the woods was the only thing I could do without feeling completely displaced. There is a big area of woodland near me, Coburnhill Woods, and it is absolutely my favourite place in the world.
I often spy deer, stood frozen, trembling with trepidation that I may chase them, then suddenly they spring off into the darkness, their white behinds bouncing away. There's tracks in the bushy thorns made by badgers and foxes and often a pheasant will suddenly spring to life out of a dead tree stump.

I read once that one of Virginia Woolf's favourite pastimes was to stroll along the countryside and it has often been a mother's favourite remedy to 'get some fresh air'. Could it really be considered as a way of dealing with depression? Virginia Woolf did drown herself eventually so perhaps it shouldn't be considered the main solution. It may not be a long-term solution, to skip into the woodland every time I feel lost, but the beauty and intricate layout of this forest lifts me up every time. It feels so simple and pure in its' natural wonder, no beeping alerts or flashing lights, you feel you could be in any time era in history and this forest would still be here, defiant and strong, only subtly changing with the consistent seasons.
The Way to the Woods
To get to the woods I follow this path, between two farming fields, left to right you can see for miles. I can even spot the motorway and the cars look like little pond skaters gliding along the horizon with a slight hum that feels like it's become the background noise to life. In one of Angela Carter's short stories, 'The Elf King', the forest is described as 'a system of Chinese boxes' enclosing the girl, perhaps symbolising her subconscious. When I'm in these woods I feel as though they could resemble my subconscious, misty and complex, bits rotting, bits blossoming.
These woods have seen me through some hard times.

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