One of my fave dogwalks is up the back lane to a little pine forest which I call 'the mushroom forest' for obvious reasons. It's really quiet up there, mainly because any sounds are absorbed by the thick mossy floor. Bit spooky too in a Tolkienesque way, so it's easy to imagine elves and goblins darting behind the tree trunks. Couple of weeks ago, I stopped in my tracks as I spotted a couple of small deer about thirty yards away in the distance. They stood still, staring at me for about ten, long, magical seconds before hopping off into the shadows where the trees end and the brush begins. I've dug out four photos taken a few years back which, hopefully, convey the almost unique atmosphere of this special place.
Went up there with Jock yesterday. Bumped into Isabelle walking little Goah and her new dog Zen, a three-year old golden retriever. Walked together up to the old granite cross with Jock enjoying the company of his playful bitch chums. Approaching the cross, there was an aroma of pine. Then I saw pine trunks, newly stacked. I feared the worst: my mushroom forest was no more.
Isabelle turned and took her bitches back home, having invited me round for an evening aperitif (that means supper) with Christian and Hadrien. I continued onwards to the mushroom forest. Followed the track which was muddy with heavy tyretracks and turned the final bend. Instead of seeing a wall of tall pines with the track leading into a dark tunnel of trees, there was now a broad sky and open ground carpeted with pine branches.
Ambled around remembering the peace and quiet the dogs and I had enjoyed in this very spot in bygone years. Then noticed Jock had disappeared. Saw him back up the track nibbling on something. Ran back and ordered him off. He'd been chewing a discarded deer leg. Maybe one of those little deer I'd stared at not long ago. A sad end to my mushroom forest.
In the seven years of dogwalking the local hills and forests, I've seen countless pines disappear from the landscape. However, more often than not, when the trees have gone they're replaced by rows of planted saplings. About thirty years later, when fully grown, they're cut down and the cycle continues. That's the way it goes. Nothing is forever.
A Winters's Harvest
1 week ago