• Michael

#0009: Into The Woods

Updated: Jun 2

The Secret Coast is my little piece of Norway. Of the Pacific Northwest. Achingly beautiful coastline rubbing up against mountainous forest. The water defines the area, for sure, but there's so much to discover if you venture inland a little.


Some days demand peace, quiet and solitude. On those days, I head into the woods.


Cowal is dominated by forestry. A landscape in constant flux through logging and reforestation. What was a dense forest last week is now an open view across the mountains. In amongst the commercial forests are large areas of protected woodland which are open to explore. I'm lucky enough to have one and a half thousand acres of community forest at the bottom of my garden.


Stepping off the road and into deciduous woodland, the light changes almost immediately as the sun filters through the branches and leaves, dappling the forest floor. The air is slightly damper, a little heavier. It smells of the earth and the trees. The world closes in.


Venturing deeper, the oak and beech are replaced by spruce and pine. The forest grows taller, looming overhead. Where the sun finds gaps between the trunks and branches, it throws down bright shafts of light onto the mossy ground, making it sparkle like a carpet of emeralds. The silence becomes more noticeable. Every twig snapping underfoot is a gunshot.


Stop a moment.


Do you hear it?


Silence.


We're absolutely alone.


Except we're not.


As our senses adjust to our new environment, the forest comes to life.


A rabbit bolts across the trail in front of us, stopping for a moment to sniff the air before vanishing as quickly as it appeared. A sudden noise overhead as a bird of prey takes flight from the treetops. That's when we notice the red squirrel spying nervously from its lookout, ever watchful and on the move.


Lichen grows heavily in this part of the woods, completely covering some of the trees to the very tips of their branches. When the sunlight catches them, they glow with a pale green haze. The ghosts of the forest.


The breeze gently moves the branches around us. The trees quietly calling out to each other in creaks and groans.


This is their world.


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