Today everything is still again; no branches sway, even the blades of grass are motionless. We’ve been stuck in this dull, cold weather for days, but at last the temperature is finally beginning to climb just a little. The only sign of movement in the wood down from the cottage comes from birds high in the canopy. Redwings, blackbirds and a few song thrushes cause branches to swing, but the small tit flock has little effect on this static world.
I sit and listen to the sweet song of a robin perched on an ivy-covered tree stump. It moves closer and I try to imagine a world without this bold little creature. Just a couple of weeks ago it was the only song in the wood, but now others have joined in; great and blue tits, dunnocks and the odd wren. A distant great-spotted woodpecker rattles away on a hollow tree, and I can make out the plaintive song of a distant mistle thrush.
We’ve had little rain for a while, the footpaths are firming up again and overnight frosts take time to melt. Deep in the valley the ground is still white, making the air fresh. For many years, an old man put out seeds each day on a moss-covered log by the path. This attracted a multitude of small birds including marsh tits, which I think just about hang on in the wood. I haven’t seen him, or a marsh tit for a long time, and there are no birds at the log today.
A small community of families live in basic wooden houses in Holt’s Field on the valley floor. They live a simple life, very close to nature and are despised by many. But how forward looking they are, living a greener life, with a minimal carbon footprint. Their lifestyle doesn't suit everyone, but they’re an example to us all, telling us that consumption is one of the main causes of the demise of the natural world. They also carve wonderful natural history features on old trees and fence posts, adding to the feeling of a simple woodland life.