Being a quiet, indeed calm, day it seemed a good time to refresh that need to hug a tree. Those old Cadzow Oaks are still standing, still glorious, having seen it all before.
However a walk in the woods, a solitary one, provides a bit more than being up close and personal with a bit of rough, with soft bark, ancient or otherwise. The steep slopes of Chatelherault were alive with birdsong that still morning, some identified, though most not; plenty of chirpy chirpy cheep cheep. But when alone in the woods there is no troll peeking out from the dark depths under that wee bridge; no retort, not even a second line to the suggestion that a mouse may have taken a stroll somewhere in those woods, deep and dark.
Instead there is quiet and solitude. Far below the waters burble over boulders; a dog barks and a goose honks. The two may or may not have been related. A woodpecker flits from one ancient tree to another, drilling away with no respect for the standard of his trunk call.
By the oaks new-born lambs frolic in the sun; tails a-wag; bouncing on all fours as they do.
On into the woods, sodden in places, ample evidence of seasons getting ever wetter and windier. Fallen trees. Thick mosses. Glaur.
I return to the oaks from some distance towards the White Bridge, back across the sett where the badgers lie sleeping, plans changed. Though this is no broadway the lambs lie down and an ear worm runs through my head. Duke’s Monument, that’s a grand wee wander; less muddy perhaps. Or not.
But time passes when lost with your own thoughts. Its one o’clock and time for lunch, dum de dum de dum. By the time the gazebo takes shape in the trees, past the stand of silver birch, all barky yet still bare; by then I realised that the car was some distance away; that time was not on my side. The school bus might beat me home. There may be trouble ahead.
Back through the mud, past the oaks again, was not an option; though a hug might help. Onwards it had to be. Childhood haunts. Back then walls could be climbed; the path between the bings. Now there are houses. The long way round then, until eventually the Old Avon Bridge appears. From there it is an uphill slog back to the car. Legs complain.
But all was well. And even the soup was finished by the time the bus appeared. I’d forgotten they were going to be late, a day out at the Learning Hub, playing with computers. Still, just wait till they hear what was under the bridge. Two weeks off school looming; they might take a stroll in the deep dark wood; and hug a tree or two.