The book that I began writing in Brittany in 2015 has, like the paths in the forest I was writing in and about, taken many twists and turns, and cost me 7 redrafts. Finally, it has become two books. Drawing on the yearlong course I'm currently leading, the first, A Spell in the Forest – Tongues in Trees, is at last taking shape and will soon head off to find its own way in the world. I hope. (The sequel, or prequel, has also begun to find shape.)
This is the brief opening passage of Part 1: I wrote it, based on a memory of an earlier visit to this forest, as a blogpost here in 2011.
Finally you open your eyes. The meadow's tall grasses curtain you; beyond, the blue hills rise. Emergent sun hazes their summits. You sit up. There ahead of you is the little path, and in the stone wall a small wooden gate.
You stand. Below in the valley swallows and martins skim the mist from the morning river. You stretch. The conversations of birds; the song of the water. Your hand lifts the old wooden latch. You step through. You slip into the green of the woods as into a silk dress. There is no room for thought.
The path rises gently, sprinkled with light. It's May and the land is alight with white blossom. The wood swims with the scent of bluebells; the air is lilac with it. A thousand wild bees drone. You're alone and it's the first day.
In the green glade pass the ruins of the hermit's chapel with its green dreams, the short walls grassed and blackbird-capped; the spring bubbling and chattering.
Follow the path in and out of sunlight. Oaks and ashes season the woodland; first bursts of honeysuckle; and look! – in the shade of this larch a host of goldcrests, a corona around your head.
Your feet firm on the good earth. Here there's no need for shoes, you can shake out the creases in which you hide; the truth is as it is, all around you, spread out.
The trees thin out, a little. In the undergrowth of campion, stitchwort, bramble there are rustles of lives going about their daily cycles. A wren skitters out; a bluetit. A very young vole, the length of your top finger joint, scurries across the path, over your feet, unafraid. In the distance a woodpecker knocks.
Soon, you will arrive. The green glade in the green day; summer still to come; and you are young, you are now, you are always. The threshold waits; and its guardian; and question and response will spring and be answered simultaneously, with no words. You pass through.
And there it is – waiting all your life for you, there before questions, before answers. You knew, and forgot that you knew.
© Roselle Angwin 2011–2019