It is that time of the year again, when I yearn to walk out into wild places and, especially, into the woods. The season seems to have suddenly changed here in Edinburgh, Summer closing her eyes and beginning to nod off at the dinner table, as her rich and velvety cousin Autumn arrives in a bluster of showers and cool mornings to bring her bounty, for all to feast upon.

This photo is of woods, woods where few people tread. These places are sacred to me, they refresh and renew and reinvigorate. In drawings and sketched recreations in archaeological textbooks or websites, the Mesolithic and Early Neolithic periods are often depicted with woodland in the background — on a hill, or down by a river, seen over a shoulder, beyond the camp. But these images of woods are those we are used to in this age, in this modern nation. Woodland back then would have been omnipresent. This question, of life in woods, is one I have long been fascinated by — what it does to us as a species, how it shaped us, as individuals and as humankind. It is something I address in a number of places, most prominently featuring in a novel I have partially crafted, now third in a series and provisionally entitled A Time of Trees. I am looking forward to getting back to that story, as I always do when the Fall sweeps in.

Deep oak woods. Just after dawn, on the west coast of Scotland.
Just after dawn, on the west coast of Scotland. These deep woods are drowsy at this time of year, their months of slumber ahead, their leaves tired now, ready to fall and sleep their final sleep, cycling into nutrients, into the thin and precious soils of this corner of the world. I have spoken before about how I move differently when I am in a wood. I find that, simply by looking at certain photographs, such as this one, I can partially restore the semi-meditative state I can achieve when I am walking beneath a canopy, between the trunks, and over the roots.

 

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Friday Photo #13 Dawn in the Woods

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