logo

A Walk in the Winter Woods…

Over the last few days I’ve been listening to an audio-book called ‘The Hidden Life of Trees‘ by Peter Wohlleben. If you read or listen to this book, two things are likely to happen; 1/ It will change the way you think about trees, and 2/ You will want to go the woods.

Well, that’s what happened to me anyway…

Fir trees in Bacton Woods

From the edge of the woods, the River Ant flows South towards the North Walsham and Dilham Canal

So here we are…

…on a cold and overcast February afternoon, atop a hill on the edge of Bacton Woods. Through the branches, I can just about make out the River Ant as it meanders southerly towards the North Walsham and Dilham Canal. The woods cover an impressive 280 acres and various tracks take you in just about any direction you may want wish to go.  So…

Let’s go that-a-way…

A walk in the woods

As we head into the woods, everything becomes calm and quiet, with just an occasional breeze caressing the tree-tops to create a gentle ripple, swirling high above us. Woods have always had a magical quality and listening to Peter Wohlleben’s book instills me with more wonder than ever. Time is measured by a different beat here, in the realm of the trees – a few of which are over 200 years old. The book explains how they communicate using electrical impulses, how they can smell and taste, and, by releasing chemicals, can warn each other of danger. Groups of trees can release toxic chemicals to discourage animals that may pose a threat. If they are set upon by insects, they can release chemicals that attract predators to chase them away.

A social gathering of trees at Bacton Wood

Trees living in a forest are social and care for, and support, each other, sometimes using their roots to feed weaker trees and even the stumps of felled trees to keep them alive, which they can, for years after they would have naturally died. Perhaps their parents? They can recognise different types of trees and will help some, particularly their relations, but will not help other species of trees that compete with them for light. They feed their young through their roots and slow their growth to ensure they mature into healthy trees. They can communicate further afield through networks of fungi in the soil that forms what Wohlleben calls the ‘Wood Wide Web’.

In possession of this remarkable information we roam the woods in awe, and what we see above and around us, and also what must be below, fills us with wonder. In the long time of trees, we dart here and there for just a while, like little flies. An elderly Muntjac deer, who knows these woods far better than we ever could, is disturbed from his rest and retreats carefully across the track to our left. Not far away, a Long Tailed Tit merrily hops from branch to branch. Yet, despite these moments of activity, much of the wildlife here appears to be dormant…

A Long Tailed Tit takes flight…

A woodland watering hole

Signs of Spring…

Despite the cold and the quiet of the winter woods, there are signs that life is returning. The white, drooping flowers of Snowdrops rise above the leafy woodland floor and shoots of daffodils reach skywards towards the sunlight as days lengthen and the sun climbs ever so slightly higher with each passing day. It will soon be their time. In perhaps just a few weeks these woods will be teaming with life.

Water droplets cling on to the closed leaves of Snowdrops

The beauty of the winter woodland

Woodland Snowdrops signal the coming Spring

A water droplet hangs in the edge of a sprouting twig

A moment in the sun

As the old pine fell, we sang…

 

Sunlight catches a fern in a winter wood

We finally return to the car and it feels like we are moving from one world, to the next.  However fanciful it may seem, I now feel I understand at least a little of the lives of trees and the way they like to live – just like we all do, really –  in the company of their own for support, protection and companionship…

  • Share

4 Responses

    • Hi Barry, thank you very much. There are so many more deserving blogs (yours included, which is brilliant) than my rambling posts – but I was thrilled to get the award and it certainly keeps me motivated to keep going. Thanks again 🙂

Leave a reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *