I have decided to walk in the woods and see if the three boys I met the last time we came here constructed anything? At about dusk we reached the pond that they mentioned and I noticed a sturdy wooden fence surrounding it on three sides. I thought that would prevent any swinging travel across it and I could see no sign of any ropes or swings. Cosmo walked into the pond to take a drink and stumbled and took a bit of a dipping as he lost his footing (unusual for Cosmo). I had my wellies on and I retraced his steps to see what happened to him. I gingerly stepped into the pond and moved forward slowly to find the ground underfoot fall away from me very sharply into deeper water, but I managed reverse with a bit of a splash and obverted a major flood over the top of my welly.
We walked on to the tree where I saw the three boys, by which time it was almost dark and I was a little surprised to find nothing, no swing, no rope, nothing like it had never happened. We walked on and for some reason I decided to walk into a thick part of the woods. Dark now, and I am listening to music wearing by head phones. Music in the middle of a dark wood at night, that is a powerful experience and I said to myself that one picture would never be able to convey how powerful an experience it is, it would need to be a whole body of work to convey this. Then I brush into a twig which drags across my eye and is uncomfortable for a bit. The Green Fields of France (written by Eric Bogle) comes on, it is one of the saddest songs I have ever heard, so powerful in the woods with the line ‘and did pipes play the flowers of the forest’…. I am filling up on the verge of tears it’s so moving. Next thing I know my foot is sliding from under me, with my hands deep in my pockets and I’m unable to keep my centre of gravity and I’m sort of running when I hit the floor. My head phones fell out and it’s very dark. Cosmo’s ahead I can hear him walking. All is well and no damage done.
Now these minor accidents that keep happening to me reminds of something told to me by two old women dressed up as witches/soothsayers in a living museum in Stockholm. Buildings from all over Sweden were reconstructed on this site and actors dressed up providing historical info about the people who may have worked or lived in these buildings. I walked into this peasant log house of 600 years ago to find these two witches inside. They told me that they had a whole array of herbal medicines and tinctures and then asked me if I was feeling unwell or had any health issues. Rather too game for this I said I had a persistent cough of many months now. They reached up picked a bottle down from a high shelf, took the cork out and said, that would cure it and that I should have a swig! I sniffed it, ah..mm and then looked for a label or a clue…Vodka…they told me. I spied a coiled snake in the bottom of the bottle and pointed to it…. a Viper …don’t worry dead….. they replied. I was a little put out and said that my cough was not that bad actually and handed back the bottle with a sheepish grin. A powerful tonic apparently…good for a lot of ailments!
Now this is the part that freaked me out a bit and made the hairs on my neck stand up. They asked me if I had ever been in the woods at dusk, getting dark, and tripped over..or cut my thumb on an axe because it was too dark to see properly….. you know little accidents!
Yeh, exactly that was happening to me this evening, I fell in the pond, poked my eye out, slipped over already. Now the reason for this apparently, the witches told me is because the woodland spirits come to life at night, and humans must return home at dusk for their own safety. Not welcome into their night time world, yours by day ours by night and we share that way. Only trouble if you outstay your welcome in the woods at night. The spirit world was respected back then, so much so they told me, that after your evening meal is washed up, don’t whatever you do open the door and just chuck a dirty bowl of skanky water out. It might go all over a spirit….then there would be trouble, they would make life hell. Open the door and announce that in two or three minutes you will chuck the water out, so move away and I mean no harm to you . Then again please a second warning a minute later I mean no harm or insult. Then finally a third time you can throw the water out without upsetting them.
Even in our world of scientific explanations, it’s still a very powerful experience walking in the woods at night. How has the fear not eroded, would my phone work out there, GPS signal even?
No… I knew the way back, even in the dark and I had Cosmo with me. I enjoyed the music in that setting tremendously.
(two drawings showing the crossing over into the spirit world of the woods).